The winter holidays are a time of celebration and that means cooking, decorating the home and entertaining.
The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office offers some safety reminders to ensure that the holidays will be happy for you and your family.
Home fire safety is always a major concern. Decorations should be fire resistant or non-combustible and located a safe distance from heat sources, such as cooking and wood stoves, fireplaces, space heaters or televisions.
If smoking is permitted in your home, provide a place for smokers to discard their cigarettes. Place all used ashtrays in the sink and wet down the contents to prevent an accidental fire. Keep all matches and lighters out of the reach of children. And, check all smoke detectors to be sure they are working properly.
One of the most common causes of accidental home fires during the holiday season is unattended candles, as December is the peak time of year for candle fires. Candles are often knocked over by children or pets, causing injuries and fires. Before lighting any candle, secure it in a properly fitting holder with a wide base to catch the hot dripping wax and to prevent the candle from tipping over.
Trim the wick to one-quarter inch. Extinguish taper and pillar candles when the wick is within two inches of the holder. Votives should be put out before the last half-inch of wax begins to melt. Keep candles at least one foot from combustibles on tables, beside window treatments or decorations.
More than one-half of candle fires began when something flammable was too close to the candle. After the candle is lit, it must be supervised until properly extinguished. NEVER leave candles burning when leaving a room or going to sleep. During a power outage, avoid carrying a lit candle. Use flashlights.
Before displaying any electrical decoration, be sure it is tested and approved by a testing facility such as Underwriter’s Laboratory (U.L) or Factory Mutual (F.M). Use only lights designed and approved for the outdoors when creating an exterior display. Check all light cords and plugs for worn-out or exposed wiring. Replace any damaged light strings or decorations with new items. Do not overload electrical circuits. Use multi-outlet surge protector power strips when running multiple applications of decorative lights.
Due to the cost of home heating fuel, the use of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves for alternative heating sources is at an all time high. Have the fireplace or wood stove flue inspected and cleaned at least once a year. Creosote build up is the number one cause of chimney fires. Check for cracks in the mortar or deterioration of the piping before lighting a fire. Don’t forget to open the flue. Make sure that the safety screen or doors are in place to prevent sparks from igniting flammable furnishings or interior finishes.
Never use lighter fluid or any other flammable liquid to start a fire. Use kindling and paper which is weighed down to prevent it from flying out of the chimney or fireplace. Once the fire is out, put the cool ashes into a metal container with a lid, outside and well away from the home The container should be placed on a non-combustible surface. To prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide, keep a window slightly open to allow fresh air to enter the home. Electric heaters should be at least three feet from any combustible materials. The use of kerosene heaters is not recommended.
Christmas tree safety begins with the selection of a fresh tree that holds its needles. Trim the trunk at least 1-inch above the original cut before placing the tree in a sturdy stand. For the first watering, fill the stand with hot water to open up the sap channels so the tree can consume water efficiently. Use cool water thereafter. The tree may be kept inside as long as it remains fresh and moist. When it begins to lose needles and starts to dry, discard the tree. Make sure artificial trees are labeled as fire retardant. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, near an exit. DO NOT attempt to extinguish a fully involved tree fire. Leave the house and call 9-1-1. Follow these tips for a safe, happy holiday season.
The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office has a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Program that provides and/or installs 10 year lithium battery alarms and carbon monoxide detectors free of charge to Orange residents. If you have any questions regarding fire safety or wish to have smoke and/or CO detectors provided and/or installed in your home, please contact our office at (203) 891-4711, Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM or visit the website at www.orangefiremarshal.com.