Making Holidays Fire Safe
December 12, 2003
Friday - 1:00 am
The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Fire Administration urge the nation's
families to take steps to make their holidays "Fire Safe"
this year. Satatistics show that the incidence of house fires
increases during the winter holiday season - fueled in part by
holiday decorations, candles, and Christams trees.
"We see that fires caused by candles increase fourfold during
the holidays, and each year some 200 house fires occur where
Christmas trees are the initial source of ignition," said
Michael D. Brown, UnderSecretary of Homeland Security for Emergency
Preparedness and Response. "Preventing these fires helps
keep the holiday season joyful for this nation's families."
All told, house fires during the winter holiday season kill about
500 and injure about 2,000 people, and cause more than $500 million
in damage. But, R. David Paulson, head of the USFA, which is
part of FEMA, said Americans don't have to give up their holiday
decorations in the interest of safety. There are some easy, commonsense
things people can do to reduce risk of a fire, he said.
The USFA recommends:
- Selecting a fresh Christmas
tree that is kept in water at all times. Needles on fresh trees
should be green and should not fall off easily. Don't put your
tree up too early or leave it up longer than two weeks. Dried
out Christams trees can ignite easily and boost a fire by spreading
it rapidly to nearby combustible materials. Placing your Christmas
tree in a safe place, away from heat sources such as a fireplace
or heat vent.
- Maintaining your holiday lights.
Inspect your lights before you use them to ensure they don't
have frayed wires, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked
sockets or excessive waer. Only use lighting that is listed by
an approved testing laboratory and don't leave the lights on
when your not home. Avoiding overloading electrical outlets.
Don't link more than three light strands unless the directions
indicate it is safe. Periodically check the wires. They should
not be warm to the touch.
- Using only nonflammable decorations
that are placed away from heat vents and if you're using an artificial
tree, make sure that it is flame retardant.
- Avoid using candles. If you
do use candles, ensure they are in a stable holder and place
them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Do not leave lit
candles unattended, never put candles on a Christmas tree and
never leave the house with candles burning.
"It's also important to
know that fires caused by children increase during the holiday
season. According to our National Fire Incident Reporting System,
children will cause close to 60 house fires a day in mid-December,
with another sharp increase on New Year's Day," said Paulison.
"Parents should take precautions to prevent such tragedies."
Source of News:
Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Fire Administration
E-mail Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
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