The holiday season is upon us and that means beautiful decorations, lights everywhere, candles or a cozy fireplace, and a gorgeous Christmas tree on display in many homes. In order to keep your home and loved ones safe, it is important to review holiday fire safety. With all those extra electrical cords and open flames, don’t take any risks. Just a few reminders and some quick checks will help you keep your holiday cheer safe and sound. If you have any other questions Asbury Electric is here to help!
If you like “live” Christmas trees, make sure you choose one that has fresh, green needles. Make sure the needles don’t fall off when you touch them – falling needles indicate that the tree is drying out and that means it is more flammable. You can prevent trees from drying out by watering them daily. Even though they don’t have roots, the trunk will still absorb water. When placing your tree, ensure that it is secure and won’t fall over easily. Don’t place the tree in a high-traffic area, where scurrying pets or children might accidentally bump into it. Be sure the tree is not blocking any exits. Choose a spot that is at least 3 feet away from any heat source (heater, radiator, fireplace, candles, lights). Christmas trees generally do not increase the chance of a fire in your home, but if a fire does occur, the tree will make the outcome more serious because it is a source of fuel that can ignite quickly. Once the holidays are over, dispose of the tree properly. Do not leave it in the garage or next to the house. Choose a good tree and a safe spot to up your holiday fire safety.
Winter is the season of lights, and as beautiful as they are, they can also be a potential fire hazard. When putting up your holiday decorations, check each string of lights or any electrical items closely. Make sure they don’t have any fraying cords or missing bulbs. Don’t overload outlets with too many plugs. Spend the money on a quality surge protector if you are in need of more outlets. Always read the labels of lighting to determine if they are suitable for indoor or outdoor use. If you are stringing lights together, the label will also tell you how many strings can be attached before they reach capacity. If you use candles in your decorating, always extinguish them before leaving the room and make sure they are in a safe and secure place, away from flammable material. Do not leave your holiday lights or candles on when you go to bed or when you leave the house. It is not worth the risk. Holiday fire safety is no joke. Always unplug or extinguish any lighting before going to bed or leaving your home. To save on your electricity bill and keep your home safe, don’t leave outdoor lighting on for more than 6 hours. If you turn the lights on when it gets dark (around 5 p.m.) and turn them off when you go to bed (10 or 11 p.m.), that is the optimal 6 hour limit. And most people won’t be out to admire your holiday lights that late anyway. If you have trouble remembering to turn lights out, use a programmable timer to save you the hassle.
Heating your Home
If you use a furnace to heat your home, you should have it inspected at least once a year by a professional. This will ensure that your system is running safely and efficiently. The flame of the furnace should always burn bright blue and never come outside of the furnace. If you hear or smell gas in your home, evacuate it immediately. Natural gas has a sulfur/”rotten egg” odor and a gas leak will usually make a hissing sound. Do not make any phone calls in the home, from your landline or from a cell phone. Don’t turn lights on or off. Once you are a safe distance away from your home, call 911 or your gas company.
If you use a fireplace or woodstove during the winter, it is important to have them inspected and cleaned by a professional at least once a year. Build up in the chimney can ignite, or block escaping smoke. The best time of year to have your fireplace or woodstove inspected is in the fall, just before you are planning on to light your first fire. This ensures that the space and chimney are clean and stable, and ready for another season of cozying your home. Make sure your fireplace or woodstove has safety features to prevent sparks from flying on to furniture, logs rolling out, and small children from getting too close. A fireplace screen should stop sparks and logs from escaping, while a baby gate is optimal for protecting little ones. Holiday fire safety is something everyone should stay on top of to keep the holidays fun.
Checking your smoke detectors is something you should do regularly throughout the year. Make sure that they are working and have batteries properly installed. If you aren’t sure how to install them or are having trouble, please reach out to Asbury Electric and we will be more than happy to help you. More than anything we want our clients to be safe, and smoke detectors are a simple way to do that.
The holidays are a time for enjoyment and relaxation, so take some of the worry out of the equation by doing simple checks that will help your home and family stay safe. Get in touch with Asbury Electric with any questions you may have, we are here for you.
For more information on how to holiday fire safety tips, check out the National Fire Protection Agency at https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Seasonal-fires/Winter-holiday-safety