The holidays are not the most wonderful time of year for everyone. For thousands of people, the holidays lead to serious personal injuries and fatalities due to preventable fires. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and other wintertime holidays pose higher risks of home fires than other days of the year. From flammable holiday decorations to cooking fire risks, many traditions could expose your family to fire hazards this season. Practice good holiday fire safety in your home by recognizing and avoiding some of the most common culprits and avoiding serious burn injuries.
Christmas trees are a leading cause of holiday home fires in the U.S. From 2013 to 2017, Christmas trees were the source of at least 160 home fires annually. Christmas tree fires kill an average of 3 people, injure 15 others and cause $10 million in direct property damage each year. Although one-fifth of Christmas tree fires are intentional, most stem from unintentional issues such as dried-out trees and electrical problems. Poor electrical distribution and faulty lighting equipment cause 44% of home Christmas tree fires.
Help prevent Christmas tree fires by keeping your live tree watered consistently. Water your tree daily to avoid letting it dry out. A dry tree can catch fire and reach flashover much faster than a well-watered one. Never decorate your Christmas tree with real candles or faulty lights. Check all electrical cords for damage before stringing them on the tree. Keep your tree a safe distance from sources of heat and fire. Scrap your tree as soon as it begins to dry out.
Holiday lights cause many home fires due to short circuits, sparks, malfunctions and overloads. Do not overload your circuits. Safe distribution of electricity could prevent a Christmas tree or house fire. Dispose of lights with damaged or frayed cords, even if the lights still twinkle. Unplug your Christmas tree and holiday lights before going to sleep. Never decorate the exterior of your home or front stoop with holiday lights only designed for indoor use. Exposure to the elements could damage the lights enough to spark a fire.
Holiday decorations caused an average of 780 home structure fires per year from 2013 to 2017. Electrical décor can spark fires from faults and malfunctions. Passive decorations can also contribute to house fires by providing tinder. A heating element such as a space heater, for example, may not be able to cause a fire – even if it malfunctions – if it is not close to any flammable holiday decorations. Avoid using flammable décor entirely, if possible. Keep the décor you do use safely away from sources of heat.
If you can, exchange real candles and sources of open flame for electric counterparts. Eliminating open flames in your household can reduce your risk of holiday house fires. If you do use real candles or menorahs, keep them safely out of reach of children. Place them far away from flammable materials such as curtains, drapes, tablecloths, clothing and holiday decorations. Extinguish all open flames before going to sleep. Check your smoke detectors at least once per month to ensure they are in proper working order.
Check any appliances you only use once per year, such as space heaters and electrical holiday décor, before use. If you notice any signs of wear or damage, replace them with newer models. Position a space heater far away from anything flammable. Keep kids and pets a few feet away. Look for product recalls to make sure the manufacturer has not announced any dangerous defects with your space heater.
When cooking for the holidays, keep a close eye on your kitchen appliances. Unsupervised holiday cooking contributes to hundreds of house fires each year. Thanksgiving is the number one day for cooking-related home fires, followed by Christmas and Christmas Eve. Help prevent holiday home fires this year by eliminating common causes.
If you were burned by faulty holiday decorations, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Liljegren Law Group’s defective product injury attorneys today for a free consultation.