Picture your perfect holiday. Perhaps you hear family members laugh while the fireplace crackles in the background. Or you enjoy your favorite holiday meal surrounded by friends and the glow of candlelight in your carefully decorated dining room. With all the holiday buildup, you might not be thinking about fire safety. But you can help preserve these peaceful memories by doing a little preparation.
Nearly 156,000 fires occur during the winter holiday season, causing 630 deaths, 2,600 injuries, and approximately $936 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. “These are tragic losses at this time of year,” says James King, field technical manager for Chubb Personal Insurance. Every January, he reviews several cases of fires that could have been prevented.
Here are four main fire hazards that every homeowner should know.
Always Properly Dispose of Fireplace Ashes - Ashes should be placed in a metal container, wet down and moved outside, far away from your deck, garage, woodpile or anything that could catch fire. After about a week, check again for hot spots. If none are found, dispose of ashes in your outdoor trash bin and take the trash to the curb.
Always get your chimney inspected and cleaned before the holidays.
Always regularly check your Smoke Detectors, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, and Fire Extinguishers. If they don't work, replace them immediately.
Never leave candles unattended.
Never place candles in a high-traffic area where children or pets might knock them over.
Always leave a two-foot circle of safety around candles.
Never place near anything flammable.
Extension Cords and Holiday Lights
Never overload extension cords or use indoor cords outdoors. Turn off lights when sleeping or away from home.
Always check manufacturer labels to avoid a fire hazard. Do not connect more strings of lights together than recommended by the manufacturer.
Always keep extension cords out of reach of children and pets.
Never run cords under carpets. The wire can fray or be pinched by heavy furniture and start a fire.
Never nail or staple through the cord or holiday light wiring.
Always plug outdoor lights into circuits protected by GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) to prevent electric shock. Older home may not have GFCIs, but it is a fairly inexpensive fix.
Always inspect all extension cords and holiday lights for frayed wire, cracked insulation or excessive kinking before using them.
Always store cords and lights in a dry attic or closet out of season, and consider replacing inexpensive lights every few years.
Never use extension cords with space heaters. These should always be plugged directly into the wall.
Always check the circuit to make sure it can handle the added demand.
Never leave a space heater unattended, and if not in use turn them off and unplug them.
Never remove the third-prong grounding feature, and plug heaters into GFCI's for added safety.
Originally published by CHUBB Personal Insurance