Local Disaster Response Professional Says Keep the Focus on Fire Prevention For a Safe and Joyous Holiday Season
The American Red Cross (ARC) cites statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration showing nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays, claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage.
SERVPRO of East Clackamas, Hood River and Wasco Counties cautions home owners to follow some important ARC guidelines for holiday decorating and entertaining to make sure that the glow in their holiday celebrations is from twinkling lights and not a costly and potentially deadly fire.
- Place Christmas tress and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents, and candles.
- Purchase flame-retardant metallic or artificial trees. If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren't easily broken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
- Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- If you are celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, keep flammable items, including curtains and holiday decorations, at least three feet away from your candles. Place your menorah or kinara on a non-flammable surface, such as a tray lined with aluminum foil, to catch the melting candle wax. Never leave lit candles unattended.
- Ensure all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave and always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
If, in spite of all your precautions, a fire does break out, the most important thing you can do to help save lives is to install and maintain smoke alarms throughout the property. Having a working smoke alarm reduces everyone's chances of dying in a fire by nearly half. The ARC is joining with the fire departments and community groups nation wide to deliver and install a limited number of free smoke alarms in homes for those in need. Contact your local ARC chapter for more information.
For more fire prevention and fire safety tips and information about fire and water damage restoration services, please visit www.SERVPROhoodriver.com.