You may be surprised to learn that house fire reports tend to increase during the winter months in Wisconsin and across the country. Every year the team at Gold Cross Ambulance responds to reports of house fires all over the Fox Valley area, and while we’re here to help in the event of an emergency, we’d much rather you did your part to reduce your likelihood of being affected by a house fire this season.
With that in mind, we wanted to use today’s blog to share some fire safety tips for the holiday season.
Preventing House Fires During The Holidays
The colder weather and holiday season can both increase your risk of an accidental house fire. Here’s a look at some of the ways you can work to prevent house fires this holiday season.
1. Skip The Candles – Did you know that roughly half of all house fires in the month of December are caused by candles? Whether you’re lighting the menorah, an advent candle or simply freshening up the room with a scented holiday candle, never leave an open flame unattended. When possible, consider swapping our real candles for battery powered flames or other illusionary forms of light that won’t risk starting an uncontrolled fire.
2. Water Your Tree – If you have a Christmas tree in your house, be sure to water it regularly to help keep it hydrated. A dry tree can cause a massive fire in just a few seconds, whereas well-hydrated trees are less of a fire hazard. Check your tree’s water level each day and give it plenty of water so that it doesn’t dry out before the holidays are over.
3. Safe Space Heater Use – Space heaters are more commonly used during the cold winter months, but they can also be a major fire hazard. In fact, roughly 1 in 5 Christmas tree-related fires are caused by the tree being too close to a heating source like a space heater. Keep the space heater away from carpets, rugs and your Christmas tree.
4. Holiday Light Safety – Although holiday lights are safer now than they were decades ago, you still need to be mindful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing and connecting sets of lights to one another. Clark Griswold’s home may have looked amazing when it was finally lit, but it’s clear that his setup was a major fire hazard. Do not connect more than the recommended amount of lights to one another or to a single power source.
5. Keep An Eye On Those Yule Logs – If you want to roast chestnuts over an open fire or simply cuddle up next to a warm fire during a cold December day, you also need to manage your fireplace appropriately. If you haven’t had the chimney cleaned in years, consider having it cleaned before the holiday season, and then be sure to keep any fire hazards away from the fireplace, like your Christmas tree or neatly wrapped presents. A fireplace screen can help to keep embers from escaping the fireplace and causing problems. Always extinguish a fire before you leave or head to bed, don’t just assume it will safely go out on its own. And if you want the visual appeal of a fireplace without the fire threat, turn on the Yule Log on Netflix!
6. Smoke Detector Check – If your holiday shopping list includes toys or other items that require batteries, now is also a good time to buy new batteries for your smoke detector. Oftentimes they take 9V batteries but check your detectors and swap out older batteries for a newer set. Be sure to test every smoke detector after changing batteries to ensure they are working correctly!
7. Firework Safety – Finally, if you plan on ringing in the new year with some fireworks, practice some smart safety habits. Even though conditions in Wisconsin on New Year’s Eve aren’t as hazardous as other places, fires can still start if you light off fireworks too close to residential areas. Only light fireworks from a safe location, and have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby in case something goes wrong.
We’re here to help with a fire or medical emergency this winter, but we hope that you won’t need to give us a call. The team at Gold Cross Ambulance wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday season!