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The holidays are when we gather with relatives and friends, eat good food, and enjoy festive decorations and traditions. Unfortunately, house fires occur during the winter holidays; often caused by heating, cooking, and electrical malfunctions. Improving fire safety during the holidays is important to make sure your visitors and your home are safe.

Ways to Improve Holiday Fire Safety

Holiday decorations and food preparations are two major causes of house fires. However, there are a few things that contribute to a higher risk factor. No matter what holidays you celebrate, use the following fire safety tips to protect your family and your belongings this season.

Holiday Tree and Greenery

If you’re shopping for an artificial tree, look for one with a fire-resistant label. While this label does not imply that the tree is fireproof, it does mean the tree will be slow to burn and easy to extinguish.

On the other hand, if you prefer a live tree, choose a fresh one. For a live tree that will be used indoors, a freshly cut tree is best. The longer the tree is in your home, the greater hazard it becomes. This is because dry wood can catch fire easily. A fresh tree has hard-to-pull needles that do not easily break when folded around your fingers. Water your live tree daily to help it last longer.

Keep any tree or holiday greenery away from heat sources and flame. If you decorate with real evergreen wreaths and garlands, mist them daily with water to keep the needles from drying out as quickly.

Fireplaces

Your family and friends will enjoy staying cozy and warm by the fire this holiday season. Keep everyone safe by only burning seasoned hardwoods in your fireplace. Discourage your guests from putting gift wrap or cardboard packaging in the fire. These materials are not safe to burn indoors. Do not remove fireplace ash or embers until they have completely cooled. Especially if young children or pets are around, install a fireplace screen to keep sparks and embers inside the fireplace and curious children out.

Fire Safety During Holiday Cooking

A holiday celebration is not complete without a dinner party. However, use care when you are baking and cooking. This includes keeping flammable objects like kitchen towels and grocery bags away from the oven and stove. Wiping up greasy spills as you cook will also improve holiday fire safety.

Create a separate workspace for each adult who is helping prepare food. Keep children and pets out of the kitchen. Remain in the kitchen while using the oven or the stove.

Safety and Holiday Decorations

When decorating your home for the holidays, use flame-resistant or non-combustible materials. If you will be lighting candles indoors, place them out of reach of children and pets. Always extinguish candles before leaving a room or going to bed. Never place lit candles close to a tree or garlands. Use them only on fire-resistant surfaces and away from air currents.

Holiday Lights and Fire Safety

If you’re using strings of light to decorate this season, check the labels and make sure to use indoor lights inside the house and outdoor lights for your outdoor decorating. Examine each set of lights, looking for broken sockets, missing bulbs, and frayed wires. Don’t use damaged string lights. Fasten exterior lights securely to the house or trees to shield the lights from damage by the wind. When holding lights in place, do not puncture the wire with tacks or nails.

Stay safe by using these tips to improve fire safety. Your family and friends can enjoy an accident-free holiday season.

MN Pro Home Inspections provides inspection services in the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Contact us to request an appointment.