Tips To Keep Your Holidays Safe and Fire-Free

Home fires are the greatest disaster threat facing American families.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are two of the top three days for cooking fires.

The holiday season can present special fire safety challenges and the American Red Cross has steps people can take to avoid a fire in their home during the holidays this year.

Whether decking the halls, cooking that delicious meal, or just enjoying time with loved ones, the Red Cross offers these tips and short videos on how to avoid a home fire during the holidays:

HOLIDAY DECORATING:

  • Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • If getting a real tree, choose a fresh one and secure it in a sturdy stand. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits and water it daily.
  • If hanging stockings on the fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and the total number of bulbs to 50.
  • Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some strings of lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
  • COOKING HAZARDS:

    Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are two of the top three days for cooking fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can follow to avoid a cooking fire around the holidays:

  • Test smoke alarms.
  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • GENERAL FIRE SAFETY Fortunately, most home fires can be prevented. Homeowners should check for items that can be hazardous such as candles and space heaters – common items that can turn dangerous very quickly.

    To help avoid a fire in the home, there are steps someone can take now:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area. Put a smoke alarm inside every bedroom. Test them regularly and install a new battery if there is no noise when testing. Install new batteries every year. Get new smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Develop a fire escape plan for the household and practice it at least twice a year. Everyone should know two ways to escape from every room and you should designate a safe place to meet outside the home in case of a fire.
  • Tags: Home Fires.
    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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