Holiday Safety Tips
Hot Tips for the Holidays from East Side Fire Department
"Tis the season to be merry...not marred". Holidays,
with all their beautiful trimmings, also bring additional fire
safety rules to follow. Here is some specialized
advice to help prevent tragedy in your home.
Artificial or real? It's a matter of preference. Both
can be safe if some rules are observed.
Always buy a fresh tree. Look for a deep-green color,
strong natural scent, and needles firm on the limbs.
The trunk butt should be cut at an angle and sticky with sap.
Keep tree fresh by continual immersion in water (as
with fresh flowers). Since trees can dry out quickly
in heated rooms, check tree container daily for
adequate water. Dispose of
tree when needles begin falling off in large
quantities, a sign of a very dry -
and very flammable- tree. Do not burn the tree;
disposes through refuse collection.
Secure tree firmly in its stand.
Do not rely on chemical coatings or spray to make a
live tree flame-resistant.
Despite labeling, plastic trees do burn vigorously.
Do not use electric lights on metallic tree. The tree
can become charged with electricity from faulty
wiring. Instead, use colored
spotlights above or beside the tree.
BOTH REAL and ARTIFICIAL PRECAUTIONS
Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations
when going to bed or leaving the area. A short circuit
could result in a fire.
Do not use an open heat source (such as candles) on
tree. Avoid placing the tree too close to heat
sources, such as fireplaces and space heaters.
Maintain a clear exit route when setting up a tree and
other decorations. Don't allow a temporary
rearrangement of furnishing to block an exit.
Both indoor and outdoor sets should have been tested
for safety and, thus, bear the "UL" label
Check lights for damage, such as exposed wires, loose
prongs, and cracked or broken sockets, repair before
using, or discard them.
Use indoor lights inside; outdoor lights outdoors.
Outdoor lights should be waterproof; they should be fastened
securely to trees or structures to prevent damage by winds.
Avoid overloading extension cords or light strings.
There should be no more then three sets of lights on
an extension cord. Do not connect large light sets
through miniature light sets.
Disconnect lights by grasping the plug, not pulling on the cord.
Before decorating with lights, sets should be checked
for smoking and melting by placing on a non-flammable
plugging in for 10 to 15 minutes. Careful packing and
unpacking will avoid damage to lights and wiring.
Indoor lights should be securely attached to tree.
Bulbs should not be in direct contact with needles or branches.
Never use an open flame on a real or artificial tree.
Candles should be held firmly by non-flammable
holders. Do not leave unattended.
Keep candles away from flammable materials, such as
curtains. Keep out of reach of children.
Before lighting a fire, make sure the flue is open.
Remove debris in fireplace, such as greenery or wrapping paper.
Do not use the fireplace as an incinerator. Greenery
can burn rapidly, throwing off sparks. Burning
wrappings and packaging can create a "flash fire" as well as
produce toxic fumes in poorly ventilated fireplaces.
Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start
or restart a blaze. Invisible vapors can cause an explosion. Use wood
and matches. Remember to keep matches out of reach of children.
Keep a screen in front of the fireplace during the
blaze to prevent flying sparks from igniting carpet or
nearby objects. Do not leave a fire unattended.
If using artificial logs, follow package instructions
carefully. For instance, do not "break open" logs.
Also, manufacturers of
some metal modular fireplaces do not recommend use of
artificial logs because of the intense heat produced.
Check your particular fireplace.
An expert should clean fireplaces once every 200 or
300 burnings to avoid a build-up of creosote.
(Creosote is carried up the chimney as a vapor, some of which
cools, condenses and adheres to chimney walls. With
each fire burned, the
gummy tar-like substance builds up with the soot to
cover the chimney with a flammable residue layer.) Use
of vacuum or chemical cleaners are not a totally effective way of
removing the creosote layer. Scraping and brushing are
the best methods of removing deposits. Check the Yellow Pages under
"Chimney" for professional help.
Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times.
Before closing the flue, make sure fire has completely died.
Be careful in wearing loose, flowing clothing near
fireplaces and other open flames.
Careless smoking is a primary cause of fire and
fire-related deaths in the United States. Check
furniture, carpeting and waste baskets for smoldering or
smoking materials, particularly after holiday gatherings.
Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers make great holiday gifts.
Remember 9-1-1 is the Baton Rouge emergency phone
number (fire, medical, and police). Memorize it.
Don't let "fire prevention" be a holiday only matter.
Emphasize fire safety to your family. Each member
should know, if possible,
at least two means of escape from each room in the
house. A specific location outside should be
designated as a meeting place
to make sure everyone is safely outside.
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