During this time of year, we all take part in activities that increase fire risk at our homes: lighting candles, using the fireplace, holiday decorating and distracted cooking. In fact, the PURE membership has suffered thousands of claims resulting from holiday home fires over the years—fires that originated from engulfed Christmas trees or cooking, décor and fireplace mishaps.
Reducing Common Holiday Risks
Never leave candles unsupervised.
Most fires this time of year are caused by candles. It’s important to never leave candles unattended and to keep lit candles away from flammable materials—we’re looking at you, tinsel. Always place candles on a sturdy and stable surface, not a rolling table, mattress or cushion. Consider artificial, battery operated candles instead of traditional ones whenever possible.
Have your fireplace and chimney inspected annually.
Wood burning fireplaces, stoves, and chimneys should be professionally inspected annually before the first use of the season. If you have not yet had your fireplace(s) inspected and cleaned, be cautious when using it: burn only high-quality, well-seasoned wood and schedule an inspection with your chimney sweep as soon as possible after the holidays.
Always unplug lights overnight or if you're away.
When using decorative lighting, make sure to check that all the wires and bulbs are in good condition, and that no bulbs are missing. Always unplug lights overnight or when you’re away from home, make sure extension cords are UL approved and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for use.
Water your fresh tree often to keep it from drying out.
If you have an artificial tree, be sure it’s UL approved and fire-retardant. If you choose a fresh tree, be sure to water it daily and keep it at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces and radiators. If you notice needles falling off at just a touch, this is a sign that the tree is drying out and at greater risk of catching fire. When it’s time to retire your tree, store it away from your home and garage. Other decorations, such as fresh wreaths and garland, should be discarded immediately after the holidays.
Avoid distractions in the kitchen and use timers.
Whether it’s hosting, decorating or last-minute gift wrapping, many find themselves multitasking in the kitchen more than usual during the holiday months which increases risk. Try to avoid distractions and use timers—queue “alexa set a timer for 10 minutes”—to remind you to remove items from the stove and oven. Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove-top and turn it off whenever you leave the kitchen. We also recommend keeping an ABC rated fire extinguisher in your kitchen.