Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives, injuries, and destroyed
property. But many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by
homeowners. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and
concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home – and can save property and lives should
- Check holiday lights for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer’s
guidelines as to how many multiple strands can be joined together, as a fire hazard
could result from overload. Enjoy indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home,
and turn them off before going to bed at night.
- Candles add a welcoming, festive feeling, and need to be placed in stable holders and
located away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave burning candles
unattended, even for a short time.
- Keep live Christmas trees in a water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration.
Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen
needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree which should be discarded immediately.
Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights, even LED
types, on a dried-out tree.
- Electrical devices including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for
frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires,
including extension cords, under carpet or rugs even temporarily as this creates a fire
- Fireplaces should be checked by a professional chimney sweep each year and cleaned
if necessary to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in
the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters
inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
- When using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains, papers –
anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Space
heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over.
- Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard-wired to your home’s
electrical system. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on
every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area.
Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working
smoke alarms. Most municipalities now require the use of working smoke detectors in
both single and multi-family residences.
- Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters, or
candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane should always
be stored outside of and away from the house.
- Kitchen fires know no season. According to the U.S. National Fire Protection
Association, 47% of reported home fires between 2011 and 2015 were caused by
cooking. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in
toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don’t wear loose fitting clothing,
especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be
turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-
purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach. Extinguishers specifically formulated for
grease and cooking fuel fires are widely available and can supplement an all-purpose
- Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures to prevent death in a
fire. Visit ready.gov for detailed information on how to make a plan. Local fire
departments can also provide recommendations on escape planning and
preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a
fire or other emergency.
Your local Pillar To Post office wishes you all a happy and safe holiday season.