Holiday Fire Safety
submitted by the Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District.
Decorating homes and businesses is a basic part of the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. An estimated 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. These types of fires result in several deaths and numerous injuries. Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles, and Christmas trees from creating a tragedy. Learn how to prevent a fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home. Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees. Help ensure that you and your family have a fire safe holiday season.
What’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural cut tree in its festivities, make sure that you – “keep the tree watered.” Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. A dry and neglected tree can be a serious problem. Keep your tree well-watered and remove from the structure if many needles begin falling from the tree.
When selecting a tree look for a fresh tree that is green with needles that are hard to pull back from the branches and do not break. The trunk should be sticky to the touch and cut 1 inch from the truck before placing in a watered stand. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground and if many needles fall off, the tree was cut too long ago, has dried out.
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Do not put your cut tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Use Only Nonflammable Holiday Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Maintain Your Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.
Do not leave holiday lights on overnight or unattended!
Don’t Block Exits
Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exit way puts you and your family at risk.
Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace
Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire. Wrapping paper may also contain toxins that are not safe to breathe if allowed to burn.
Beware of Snow Covered Ponds/Lakes
While snow covered ponds and lakes may appear inviting, prior to the recent storms, ice development was marginal and in many places did not thicken to adequately support significant weight. As a result persons may obtain a false sense of security when looking at a snow covered lake. With the holidays quickly approaching, emergency responders want to ensure that the word is out there that this may not be the year to venture out on snow covered lakes, at least not at this point in the winter season. Please be extra careful around our lakes and be very observant of children and pets.
The Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District wishes you a very happy and safe holiday season. For more information or for any questions pertaining to fire related issues, please feel free to contact the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department at 934-2300.