The following was submitted to Norwood Patch by the Norwood Fire Department:
The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining and an increased risk of fire due to heating equipment. The Norwood Fire Department asks you to follow these safety tips for a safe holiday season!
- Use caution with holiday decorations and whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
- Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
- Purchase only lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance.
- Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. Do not overload extension cords.
- Check your strands of lights to determine the number of strands that may be connected. Connect no more than three strands of push-in bulbs and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
- Always unplug lights before replacing light bulbs or fuses.
- Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation (i.e., using clips, not nails).
- Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
- Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer.
- When decorating your tree, always use lights listed by a testing laboratory. Some lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Larger tree lights should also have some type of reflector rather than a bare bulb.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use tree lights. Any string of lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used. Connect no more than three strands of push-in bulbs and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
- Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and extend their life.
- Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and make sure any lit candles in the room are placed well away from tree branches.
- Try to keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water daily. Do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles. Check for fresh, green needles. And place your tree in a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
- Children are fascinated with Christmas trees. Keep a watchful eye on them when around the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights. Store matches and lighters up high, out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet (one meter) away from any heat source, such as fireplaces and radiators. Try to position the tree near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances. Do not place the tree where it may block exits.
- Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in a house or garage, or placed against the house.
On average, a candle fire in the home is reported to a U.S. fire department every 34 minutes. More than half of all candle fires start when items that can burn, such as furniture, mattresses, bedding, curtains, or decorations, are too close to the candle. The risk of a fatal candle fire appears higher when candles are used for light.
- Consider using battery-operated flameless candles which can look, smell, and feel like real candles.
- Use sturdy, safe candleholders.
- Protect candle flames with glass chimneys or containers.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Put candles out when you leave a room.
- Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
- Keep children and pets away from burning candles.
- Be careful not to splatter wax when putting out a candle.
- Never use a candle when oxygen is present.
- Always use a flashlight, not a candle, for emergency lighting.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Wherever you smoke, provide plenty of large, deep sturdy ashtrays and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
- After a party, always check on, between and under upholstery and cushions and inside trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet). When smokers visit your home, ask them to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
- Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.