The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is offering reminders to keep folks fire-safe as they wind down the holiday season. Roughly one-third of home fires and home fire deaths occur in December, January and February, according to NFPA.
Although Christmas tree fires are uncommon, when they do occur, they are often serious. One out of every 21 reported Christmas tree fires results in a fatality. One-third of Christmas tree fires occurred in January.
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“The longer Christmas trees are in the home, the more they dry out and increasingly become fire hazards,” says Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. “Removing the tree from your home and properly disposing of it as soon as possible will minimize the risk of a treasured holiday season becoming a tragic one.”
Dried-out trees should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Carli recommends checking with your local community to find a recycling program. All ornaments, tinsel, garland and lights should be removed. Santa Clarita residents may recycle their trees by leaving them out on regular trash days for pickup and mulching.
As you unplug and store electric holiday decorations, remember that that practicing safety now can keep decorations in working condition and prevent potential hazards from occurring next year. Following are safety tips that can be used when putting away seasonal decorations:
To unplug electric decorations, use the gripping area provided on the plugs. Never pull the cord to unplug a device from electrical outlets. Doing so can harm the cord’s wire and insulation and even lead to an electrical shock or fire.
As you’re putting away electrical light strings, take time to inspect each for damage. Throw out light sets if they have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
Do not place a damaged set of lights back into the storage box for next year’s use.
Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard.
Store electrical decorations in a dry place where they cannot be damaged by water or dampness. Also, keep them away from children and pets.
More than half of U.S. home heating fires happen in December, January and February, according to NFPA. Heating equipment was involved in an estimated 66,100 reported home structure fires in 2008, causing 480 civilian deaths, 1,660 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage. Learn more about heating safety at http://www.nfpa.org/heating.
NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are working together to remind everyone that home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season. For more information about the organizations’ joint safety campaign, “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires”, visit http://www.nfpa.org/winter.