Candles are very popular, especially around the holidays. But did you know that candles cause about 20 home fires a day on average in the U.S.?
December is the peak month for home candle fires. If you’re decorating with candles this holiday season, consider using the battery-operated kind. If you must use candles, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach of pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended.
The American Red Cross offers these additional steps you can take to deck your halls safely:
- Check all holiday light cords to ensure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.
- Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
- Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
- If buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.
- If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered. To test if the tree is fresh, bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
- Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings or other decorations on the mantel.
- Check the labels of older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
- If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
In addition, many people will be doing a lot of extra cooking during the holiday season. Cooking is the top cause of home fires in the U.S. Enjoy the holiday season by keeping an eye on what you fry, that is, never leave cooking food unattended. If you need to leave the kitchen, even for a moment, turn off the stove.
Another leading cause of home fires is heating equipment. With the cold weather settling in, that risk increases. Help keep your family safe by providing at least three feet of space for all heating equipment. This is critical because most home heating fire tragedies occur when flammable items like furniture, rugs and drapes are too close. Never leave space heaters unattended — as they’re involved in most fatal home heating fires. If you use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. And turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
You can also help keep your family safe by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less. Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download our free Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.