A beautifully decorated Christmas tree, a warm space heater and fragrant candles burning are great ways to enjoy your home during the holidays, but they can be dangerous if not used properly.
The risk of home fires typically increases in the U.S. around the winter holidays. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, 30 percent of home structure fires and 38 percent of home fire deaths occur between December and February.
Christmas trees, decorative lights, and candles are among the leading causes of home fires. University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland offer these guidelines for keeping homes and families safe.
- Keep matches, lighters and other fire sources out of children's reach.
- Keep clothing, furniture, newspapers or anything flammable at least three feet from a fireplace, heater or radiator.
- Turn off all portable heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Follow instructions for extension cords and do not overload.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected and cleaned every year.
- Ensure all decorations are nonflammable or flame-retardant and kept away from heat sources.
- Do not burn wrapping paper or other packaging in the fireplace.
- Candles should only be used under adult supervision and kept out of reach of children.
- They should be placed where they cannot easily be knocked over. Candles should never be left unattended.
- A live tree should be watered daily and only used until it dries out, usually two weeks or less.
- If using an artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
- Check lights for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked parts, or excessive wear, and follow all instructions that accompany holiday lights.
- Never leave holiday lights on unattended and check frequently to ensure they are not becoming too hot.
- Keep all cords out of reach of children. When using lights outdoors, make sure the lights have been certified for outdoor use.
SAFETY REMINDERS - NO MATTER WHAT THE SEASON, MAKE SURE ALL HOME HEATING EQUIPMENT AND SMOKE ALARMS ARE WORKING PROPERLY!