Holidays are a time for joy and celebration in South Carolina. A time when families come together, candles are light, homes are decorated, and feasts are prepared. Unfortunately it is also a time when there is an increased risk for home fires.
“Holidays are a time for family and friends to celebrate,” said Louise Welch Williams, CEO for the Palmetto SC Region of the Red Cross. “By taking a few precautions when you deck the halls, you can keep your family safe throughout the holiday season.”
During the holiday season, an average of 40 home fires per day in the country are caused by children playing. It’s also been shown that Christmas tree fires are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires and candle fires are four times as likely to occur. That’s why these seven fire safety tips from the American Red Cross are so important to remember as people string up lights and gather with family and friends.
1. Keep children, pets & decorations away from lit candles and consider using flameless candles instead. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
2. Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant. 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.
3. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
4. Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles. If hanging stockings on the fireplace, do not use fireplace for fires.
5. Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords or loose bulb connections and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
6. Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the over is on. Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove top.
7. Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
The Red Cross is working to protect families from the most common disaster in the United States, home fires. The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is an initiative that aims to reduce deaths and injuries caused by home fires by 25 percent in five years. To date, the campaign has saved more than 110 lives across the country, 11 of these were in South Carolina. For more information about how you can keep your family safe from home fires, visit redcross.org/homefires or download the free Red Cross Emergency App.