21st Civil Engineer Squadron
12/8/2015 - CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. -- For
most of us, the holiday season represents a time for family festivities
and good cheer. What few of us consider is that the holiday season is a
time when there is an increased risk of home fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, many households
engage in holiday activities that serve as some of the leading causes of
U.S. home fires, including cooking. Christmas trees, candle usage and
holiday decorations also significantly contribute to the seasonal causes
of home fires. Add to that the hectic nature of the holidays, when
people are trying to accomplish multiple tasks at one time, and the
chance for home fires grows even more.
"As everyone gets busier during the holidays, we often become rushed,
distracted or tired," says Guy Chastain, assistant chief of Fire
Prevention at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station Fire Department.
"That's when home fires are more likely to occur."
Fortunately, with a little added awareness and some minor adjustments to
holiday cooking and decorating, the season can remain festive and safe
"By taking some preventive steps and following simple rules of thumb, most home fires can be prevented," said Chastain.
With unattended cooking as the leading cause of U.S. home fires and home
fire injuries, people should stay in the kitchen while frying,
grilling, boiling, or broiling food. Most cooking fires involve the
stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it, and turn
off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it's for a short
period of time. If simmering, baking or roasting food, check it
regularly and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.
Cheyenne Mountain AFS Fire Department also suggests creating a "kid-free
zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food
and drinks are prepared or carried.
Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, and December
is the peak month for home candle fires. NFPA statistics show that two
of every five home decoration fires are started by candles. Cheyenne
Mountain AFS Fire Department encourages personnel to consider using
flameless candles in their homes.
However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches
away from anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when
you leave the room or go to bed. Use candle holders that are sturdy,
won't tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces. Avoid using
candles in the bedroom where more than one-third of U.S. candle fires
begin or other areas where people may fall asleep. Lastly, never leave a
child or pet alone in a room with a burning candle.
According to NFPA, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 210
home structure fires caused by Christmas trees per year. Three of every
ten are caused by electrical problems, and one in four result from a
heat source that's too close to the tree. Cheyenne Mountain AFS Fire
Department offers the following advice for picking, placing and lighting
· If you have an artificial tree, be sure it's labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
· If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don't fall off
when touched; before placing it in the stand, cut 2" from the base of
the trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to water it daily.
· Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least three feet
away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators,
candles and heat vents or lights.
· Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory, and
make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
· Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb
connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of light
strands to connect.
· Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
· Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
· After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire
hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside
· Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
By following these fire prevention tips and measures, people can greatly
reduce the risk of fire in their home, and enjoy a safe holiday season.
"The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire
occurs," said Chastain. "By taking simple precautions, people can avoid
potential fire hazards, and make this time of year a healthy and happy
Visit www.nfpa.org/holiday for more information and safety tips.