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How To Keep Your Home Safe From Fire During the Holidays (and Year-Round)

As a homeowner or renter, a fire in your home can be one of the most devastating – and deadly -hazards you face. Here are some statistics from the United States Fire Administration: In 2010, 362,100 residential fires occurred in the U.S., resulting in 2,555 deaths, 13,275 injuries and more than $6.6 billion in property damage.

As with any potential hazard, prevention is key. Here’s a checklist of steps you can take to keep your home safe from fire.

Lighting and Cords

  • Never “stack” too many electrical items into the same outlet by using splitters, extension cords with multiple outlets, etc.
  • If an electrical appliance smokes or smells unusual, unplug it immediately and have it fixed or replaced.
  • Use bulbs of the correct wattage for all light fixtures.

In the Kitchen

  • To extinguish grease fires, keep baking soda near your stove or range. Don’t use water, which will spread the flames.
  • Keep your stove’s exhaust fan and range hood free of grease.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.

In the Laundry Room

  • Never leave home with the clothes dryer running.
  • Clean dryer vents frequently, and clean the lint screen after each load to keep the airway clear.
  • Make regular safety checks of your home’s major systems (heating/cooling). It’s best to hire a professional to inspect them.
  • Keep doors and window clear of furniture or other large objects.


  • Don’t put straw, hay or other flammable materials under your home.
  • Store flammable liquids (paint thinner, gasoline, etc.,) in approved containers outside your home, never under your home.
  • Fires started by cigarettes cause more deaths than any other type of fire. If you smoke:

· Don’t smoke in bed or when you’re drowsy.

· Extinguish butts and ashes with water before disposing.

· Better yet, don’t allow smoking in your home.

Preventing Holiday Fires

Did you know that a dry Christmas tree can take less than 30 seconds to engulf a room in flames? Sadly, a disproportionate number of home fires occur during what’s supposed to be a joyous time of year. Here are some tips to help keep your home and family safe this holiday season.

Live Christmas Trees

  • Make sure to get a “fresh cut” on the base of your tree. Buy a fresh tree (with strong, tight needles) and water it every day.
  • Never place a tree next to fireplaces, heater vents or any heat source. Also, keep the tree out of traffic areas to avoid knocking it over.
  • A well-watered tree will dry out after a month, so plan accordingly. If you want to keep your tree until New Year’s, buy it no earlier than the second week of December.

Artificial Christmas Trees

  • Artificial trees are safer than real trees. Just make sure yours is UL-rated (a global safety rating) and clearly labeled “nonflammable.”
  • Inspect all lights and wires on your tree every year. If you find any frayed wires or broken light sockets, it’s time for a new tree.

Indoor and Outdoor Lighting

  • Inspect all lights and throw out any with bad wires or broken sockets.
  • Don’t run more than three light strings end-to-end.
  • Make sure all extension cords are in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Don’t use nails or staples that can damage wires. Use UL-rated clips or hangers instead.
  • LED lights create much less heat than old-fashioned incandescent lights. They’re safer to use on your Christmas tree, too.
  • Don’t leave any Christmas lights on overnight. Use a timer to turn them off automatically.

Finally, be sure to check with your insurance agent to make sure your homeowners’ insurance is up to date and will protect you fully in the event of a fire.

Categories:   Living Room Ideas