Damages from house fires go as high as 12 billion dollars per year. In the United States alone, there is at least one house fire reported every 89 seconds. With the approaching holidays, it’s time to step up your game in the home fire prevention department.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s day are for merry-making. But, these are also peak seasons for home fires. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said burning candles, decors, and cooking equipment are the usual reasons for winter house fires.
You shouldn’t let your worries get in the way of enjoying the holidays. But, it will do you and your family good if you observe diligence in keeping your home fire-proof. So, below are the top tips to keep your home fire-safe over the holidays (and beyond).
1. Invest in a high-quality smoke detector.
Smoke detectors alert you when it detects smoke in the room, giving you ample time to escape. Although this is an additional expense, it can save you and your entire household. The NFPA revealed that three out of five fire-related deaths happen in homes without smoke alarms.
Ensure your family’s safety by installing a smoke detector at each level of your house. Fire safety experts suggest having at least one in every sleeping room and another outside every sleeping quarter. Wire all these smoke detectors together so that if one of them goes off, the rest will follow. Make sure to replace them once every ten years.
Here are other smoke detector-related tips you should consider:
- Install a smoke alarm in your kitchen.
- Ensure that your smoke alarms are at least ten feet from your kitchen appliances. Doing this keeps false alarms at bay.
- It would be great if your smoke detector could detect carbon monoxide. This is especially if you use a fireplace or wood stove in winter.
- Test your smoke detectors at least once a month to see if they’re all working well.
- Keep them clean and free from dust and cobwebs to avoid false alarms.
2. Be cautious setting up your Christmas tree.
Of all the yearly home fires over the holidays, around 200 cases start with a Christmas tree. This is especially true with the live ones. One of the best things you can do to keep this from happening is to choose a safe place to set up your tree. Steer clear from heat sources like radiators, space heaters, and fireplaces.
If you’re using a live tree, take time to water it regularly. Brittle and dry trees ignite faster. Also, remember to never dispose of your tree in your fireplace. Coordinate with your local waste company for post-Christmas tree pick-up instructions.
Consider the following tips for a fire-safe Christmas tree:
- Be extra cautious when you opt for pre-lit Christmas trees. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled a couple of these trees. Their reason: for being electrical safety hazards.
- Stringing holiday tree lights by yourself can be burdensome. But, it’s a safer option than buying cheap and low-quality ones.
- Always inspect your outdoor and indoor Christmas lights to ensure electrical safety.
3. Don’t overdo your holiday lights.
As they would put it, always do things in moderation. This principle applies even to your holiday lights. While Christmas and New Year should be festive, don’t go overboard with your decors. This is especially with your lights.
According to lighting experts, it’s not safe to go beyond 80% of a circuit’s overall capacity. This is why you need to identify if your breakers are 20-amp or 15-amp circuits.
For example, your house has 15-amp electrical circuits. Every circuit has a capacity of 1,800 watts. So, your safe limit is 1,440 watts or 80% of 1,800 watts.
Now, you want to use 10-watts LED lights. How many strands can you use? To answer that question, divide 1,400 watts by 10 watts. The answer is 144. Does this mean that you can plug 144 light strands into a single outlet?
Well, no. Why? Your connected strands couldn’t go beyond 210 watts once combined. So, you still need to divide 210 watts by 10 watts. This time, you get 21 strands. This is now the number of light strings that you can plug into a single outlet safely.
Consider the following additional tips to ensure light safety:
- Go for LED lights over incandescent lights. The former is cooler and less prone to overheating than the latter.
- Simplify your indoor lights with smart lighting. By doing this, you can control your lights with your smart app wherever you are.
- Always refer to the lighting instructions and electrical safety tips provided by the manufacturer.
- Dispose of lights with bare spots and frayed wires.
- Never overload your outlets with extension cords, lights, and other electrical devices.
The winter holidays always bring family and friends together. Kids look forward to this season, eager to put up their tree and hang their Christmas stockings. Don’t taint your loved one’s memory of the holidays with completely avoidable fire accidents. Consider the tips we shared and make them always safe, memorable, and joyous.