The holidays are upon us, and you are likely getting ready to celebrate with friends and family. Whether planning to decorate your home or cook a fabulous meal for your loved ones, you must exercise caution this time of year.
The time frame between November and January marks the peak of house fire season. While decking the halls with bows of holly, garland, and lights that look like icicles is fun, be sure that you aren’t decking your halls with potential fire starters. Here are some tips for safely decorating your home:
- Check your lights for frayed or broken cords that could spark a fire.
- Avoid stringing more than three strands of lights together per extension cord.
- Turn off lights and decorations at night and when away from home.
- Use battery-powered candles instead of real flames.
- Only use outdoor decorations that are labeled for outdoor use.
- Look for a fire-resistant label when shopping for an artificial tree.
- Set your tree up away from the fireplace, radiator, or other heat sources.
- Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
- Make sure that your live tree is fresh and watered often. An old, dry tree carries with it a huge fire risk.
- Discontinue using your fireplace if you hang stockings or other decorations on the mantle.
While these tips will help with fire prevention, you will need to plan and practice your home fire escape plan in the case of an actual house fire. The ideal time frame for an evacuation is 2 minutes, and this is how long it takes before it is potentially too late. Test smoke alarms monthly; the warning they provide can be crucial when precious minutes matter. In addition, it is also smart to have fire extinguishers staged around your home.
House fires are not the only concern. According to the CDC, over 5,000 falling injuries happen yearly as a result of holiday decorating and related activities. 43% of these injuries involve falls from ladders, and most are preventable. Use the following safety tips while aloft:
- Make sure you are using the right ladder with the correct weight rating.
- Inspect the ladder and be certain it is stably anchored on a level surface.
- Always maintain three points of contact and face the ladder squarely.
- Do not carry items while climbing.
- Have a spotter on the ground to stabilize the ladder in the case of an accident.
Now let’s talk turkey, especially cooking them safely! It’s a fact; the holiday season accounts for three times the number of cooking fires than a normal day. Here are a few tips for keeping the kitchen safe this holiday season:
- Avoid loose clothing or dangling sleeves in the kitchen
- Do not leave the kitchen unattended while grilling, frying, or broiling
- Keep a timer to remind you that the stovetop or oven is in use
- Keep children and pets out of the kitchen
- Anything that is flammable (oven mitts, towels, plastic or paper bags, food packaging, etc.) should be kept away from open flames or any appliance that generates heat
- To prevent grease build-up, regularly clean surfaces
- Before leaving the kitchen or going to bed, check to be sure that all kitchen appliances are off
While the holidays are fun and exciting, be safe and keep the thrill for personal relationships and not household adventures!