Holiday safety: fire and more

  • Published
  • By Frank Barker, 75th Air Base Wing Safety

HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Winter safety and fire safety go hand-in-hand. It’s time for holiday decorations, and space heaters. It doesn’t matter what holiday you celebrate; we all want to show our holiday spirit.

Don’t ruin your holiday with a fire.

The National Fire Protection Agency states that on average, there are 790 home fires caused by decorations, excluding Christmas tree fires. One third of tree fires are caused by electrical problems.

• Use approved/listed lights
• Inspect lights for damage before you hang them
• Use outdoor lights for outside, use GFCI outlets
• Don’t overload your outlets with too many strands
• A good rule of thumb is no more than three strands
• Turn off and unplug electrical decorations when you aren’t home

Space Heaters
• Thirty percent of home fires are caused by space heaters
• Use approved/listed space heaters
• Make sure the tip-over protection works (test it)
• Plug heaters directly into a wall outlet
• Keep heaters away from combustibles
• Turn off and unplug when you leave

There are more than 15,000 emergency room visits annually in America associated with holiday decorations. This goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, “If you use a ladder, make sure its in good condition.”

Wear good shoes, not your holiday slippers, and don’t reach too far when placing your favorite ornament.

I used to do outdoor roof lights but, one year I decided falling off a roof just isn’t worth it. If you must, I recommend hiring the job out.

Renting a boom lift is another option but has its own risks. A 2014 study showed more than 10% of holiday products contained lead. Newer decorations, made in the US will probably be ok. If you have some holiday heirlooms, you may want to keep them away from children.

Following these tips and others can help you have a safer holiday season.