Prevent a House Fire this Winter Holiday Season
For many the joys of the winter holiday season include Christmas trees, holiday decorations, home-cooked meals and flickering candles. Unfortunately, all of these things are factors in the increased house fire risk throughout the month of December.
Winter holiday season house fire statistics
The following holiday house fire statistics gathered by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cover the main culprits in holiday home fires.
Christmas tree fire statistics:
- Forty-percent of all Christmas tree fires involve unwise electrical distribution or lighting equipment.
- Between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments were called to an average 200 home fires that began with Christmas trees per year.
- Fires started by Christmas trees were responsible for an average of six fatalities, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage in each of those years.
- In 26 percent of the Christmas tree fires and in 80 percent of the deaths, the fires may have been started by a heat source such as a candle or other lighting equipment sitting too close to the tree.
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Once the tree is home, cut two inches off the bottom of the trunk.
- Set up the tree stand with water and add water every day.
- Place the tree at least three feet away from all heat sources including fireplaces, heat vents and candles.
- Never decorate the tree with lit candles.
- Throw out strings of lights with worn out or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Check the manufacturer instructions for maximum number of light strands to safely connect.
- Turn off tree lights before bed and when leaving the house.
- With 37 percent of home fires caused by Christmas trees reported in January, it is important to dispose of trees as soon as possible after Christmas.
Holiday cooking fire statistics:
According to the NFPA, in 2014 the three dates with the most home structure fires caused by cooking were Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Cooking equipment was the biggest cause of these holiday cooking home fires and injuries; the cooking equipment was responsible for 47 percent of home fires that resulted in 20 percent of the home fire deaths and 45 percent of the injuries.
- Stay in the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop; especially when using oil.
- Use timers to remind yourself to pull items out of the oven or off the burner.
- Do not cook after drinking several glasses of wine or other intoxicating beverage as you are more likely to make a mistake that could cause a fire.
- Place flammable items such as oven mitts and kitchen towels well away from the stove top.
- Keep children at least three feet away from the stove/oven.
- Keep the floor in the kitchen clear of clutter and clean to avoid a slip and fall accident.
- Plug electric cords for cooking equipment into an outlet at the far end of a counter to prevent someone from accidentally pulling the equipment off the edge of the counter.
- U.S. fire departments were called to an average of 840 home structure fires that began with holiday decorations – but excluding Christmas trees – between 2011-2015.
- These fires caused the deaths of an average of two people, 36 fire injuries and $11.4 million in direct property damage each year.
- In 42 percent of these fires, the decoration that ignited was too close to a heat source such as a candle or heating equipment.
Holiday decorating safety tips:
- Place all decorations at least three feet from heat sources.
- Throw out decorations with frayed or damaged electrical cords.
Candle fire statistics:
- Candles were responsible for 36 percent of home decoration structure fires between 2011-2015.
- December is the worst time for home fires started by candles; representing the cause of 55 percent of the December home decoration fires. This is compared to 32 percent of home decoration fires occurring between January and November.
- The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Candle safety tips:
- Use battery operated candles.
- Never leave lit candles unattended.
- Keep lit candles several feet from flammable material.
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