As we celebrate this holiday season and prepare for 2011, there are fire risks in your home or business to be aware. Many of the risks have simple ways to reduce or eliminate you chance of a fire.
Every year the Branford Fire Department responds to reported fires involving candles, fireplaces and extension cords. Ask yourself these questions to evaluate if you celebrate Fire Safe:
Do you use lit candles? Are those candles likely to tip? Is it OK to leave candles burning when I go out?
- Lit candles are a part of many families' holiday traditions. There is nothing wrong with using candles as long as you follow some basic fire safety rules. Make sure they are in stable holders and on flat surfaces where they cannot be easily knocked over and start a fire.
- Look up! What is above your candle that could burn if it is too close or should fall? Simply moving the candle away from flammable items will greatly reduce your risk of a fire.
- If you want the candle effect without the risk there are battery powered candles which light up and look real. They are small enough to fit inside some candle holders. If you do use candles, never leave your home or go to a different part of the house for too long with a candle burning. This is especially important if you have young children or curious pets!
Do you have a cut Christmas tree in your home? How about cut greens or garland?
- Holiday trees which are close to a heat source, like a fireplace or heat vent, will dry out even if you keep it watered. The tree could catch fire by heat, flame, or sparks more easily because it is so dry. Be sure to avoid putting holiday tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. If your tree becomes dry, remove it from your home right away. The best way to get rid of your tree is to take it to a recycling center or have it collected by a community pick-up service.
Did you put up a string of lights that worked "if you shook the wires just right?"
- While most new strings of lights are fused and should not get hot enough to start a fire, it is important to check holiday lights each year. Look for wires that are worn out or coming apart, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and a lot of bends or twists in the wire before plugging it in! This can prevent an electric shock and possibly a fire. When replacing strings of lights, only use laboratory-tested lighting and extension cords.
Do I have too many things plugged into an outlet? Is this extension cord safe to use?
- Never overload outlets or extension cords. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure the extension cord you use is able to handle the number of power needs of all you decorations or lights. If you have any doubt the cord is safe or if it is overloaded, do not plug it in!
- All the preparation and prevention you have done will reduce your chance of a fire; however you still have to be prepared for a fire:
- One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to have a working smoke alarm that can sound fast for both a fire that has flames, and a smoky fire that has fumes without flames. It is called a "Dual Sensor Smoke Alarm." A smoke alarm greatly reduces your chances of dying in a fire.
- Check your smoke alarm at least monthly and if you take it down because someone burned the cookies, you must remember to put it back up right away!
- Prepare an escape plan and practice it often. Make sure everyone in your family knows at least two (2) escape routes from their bedrooms.
- Lastly, have a place where everyone will meet in the event of a fire. The first question the Fire Department will ask upon arrival of a fire is, "Is everybody out and accounted for?"
The Branford Fire Department wants your home or office to be fire safe all the time. If you have any questions you can call Fire Headquarters at 203-488-7266 or visit us on the web at www.branfordfire.com.