‘Tis the season for fire prevention

Dec 05, 2012

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 United States around the winter holidays. In fact, a study conducted by the National Fire Protection Agency revealed 30 percent of reported residential fires and 38 percent of home fire deaths occurred in the months of December through February.

Christmas trees, decorative lights, and candle usage are among the chief causes for home fires.

“During the winter season there are specific hazards that you must avoid to protect your family and prevent a fire in your home,” said Shawneri Guzman, Safe Kids Snohomish County coordinator.

“It’s important for parents to follow some very easy steps to ensure their decorations, candles, Christmas trees and lights are safe. Also, no matter what the season, they need to ensure that all home heating equipment and smoke alarms are working properly.”

Safe Kids Snohomish County offers these guidelines for parents to keep their home and family safe.

Eliminate hazards

• Keep matches, lighters and other fire sources out of children's reach.

• Keep clothing, furniture, newspapers or anything flammable at least 3 feet from a fireplace, heater or radiator.

• Turn off all portable heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.

• Never overload electrical outlets.

• Replace old or frayed electrical wires and appliance cords, and do not cover them under rugs.

• Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected and cleaned every year.

Holiday decorations

• All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and keep them away from heat sources.

• Do not burn wrapping paper or other packaging in the fireplace.


• Use candles only under adult supervision.

• Place candles where they cannot easily be knocked over.

• Keep candles out of reach of children.

• Never leave candles unattended.

• Never put lit candles on a tree.

Christmas trees

• Be sure a live tree is fresh; it will have green needles that do not easily fall off.

• A live tree should only be used until it dries out, usually two weeks or less.

• If using an artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

• Do not place the tree close to a heat source including a fireplace which can dry out the tree quicker.

• Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

• Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Holiday lights

• Check any lights you are reusing for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked parts, or excessive wear, and follow all instructions that accompany holiday lights.

• Frequently check lights to ensure they are not becoming too hot.

• Never leave holiday lights on unattended.

• Keep all cords out of reach of children.

• If using an extension cord, make sure you follow instructions for its use and do not overload.

• When using lights outdoors, make sure the lights have been certified for outdoor use.

Safe Kids Snohomish County works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14.

It was founded in 1999 and is led by Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, its members include local fire and EMS, Police, hospitals and medical clinics, schools, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs and more.

For more information about keeping kids safe, visit www.snosafekids.org.

-Edited by Beacon staff

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