The holiday season is a joyous time and one for rest and relaxation — but it can also put us in dangerous situations. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments respond to an average of 160 home fires ignited by Christmas trees per year.
“During the holidays there is an increase of residential fires caused by holiday decorations,” said Lewis Austin, fire and life safety manager. “It’s important to practice fire safety everyday, especially during the holidays.”
Holiday decorations, candles, cooking equipment, and large gatherings can result in fires, injuries, and property damage which can put a real damper on seasonal festivities. Luckily, it’s easy to avoid disaster. The experts from Risk Management & Safety — the team that keeps campus safe — provided tips so you and yours stay safe this holiday season!
Cooking brings people together, especially around the holidays. Whipping up casseroles, roasting (and sometimes deep frying) turkeys, and baking pies are traditions for many households. Preparing these elaborate meals requires different appliances and heat sources. Without the proper attention, your bacon can quickly become an inferno! With that in mind, it’s always important to cook with caution.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them prior to cooking by pushing the test button.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food. Unattended cooking is the primary cause of home cooking fires and injuries.
- Only plug one heat-producing appliance into a wall outlet at a time.
- Keep children three feet away from the stove while cooking.
- Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy, or coffee could cause serious burns.
- Be sure cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child or pet.
- If you are simmering, baking, or slow-roasting food-- check on it regularly, remain in your home while the food is cooking, and use a timer so that it doesn’t burn.
- Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, food packaging, wooden utensils, clothing, etc.) away from the stove top or open flame.
- If a small grease fire occurs on the stove, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the lid until the pan has completely cooled.
- If an oven fire ignites, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
- If you have any doubts about fighting a fire yourself, get out, close the doors to contain flames, and call 911.
Lights, trees, wreaths, candles, and paper decorations can put everybody into the holiday spirit at home or the office. However, these decorations should be used properly to prevent safety hazards and fires.
- Check holiday lights, new or old, carefully for broken sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Do not use damaged sets.
- Only use three sets of lights per extension cord.
- Turn off holiday lights when you go to sleep or leave the home/office
- Office decorations should not break barriers on fire doors (e.g. do not place wrapping paper over the top of a door jamb).
- If you are making paper decorations, look for materials that are labeled flame-resistant
- Avoid decorations or tree ornaments that are sharp or breakable.
- If you have a Christmas tree, keep it far away from fireplaces or candles, and make sure it’s not blocking an exit. One-third of home decoration fires are started by candles.
- If you have a live Christmas tree, water it everyday. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard!
- Keep lit candles away from combustible material (like wrapping paper or textiles).
- Ensure outdoor decorations are fastened securely with clips, not nails, so light strings do not get damaged
- When using a ladder to hang decorations, make sure to wear closed-toes shoes and place the ladder on stable, even ground.
General Safety Tips
- Whether at home, in the office, or at gatherings — there are a few basic tips for a safe holiday season:
- Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over toys, pocketbooks, opened presents, bags, or children.
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall and place them three feet away from flammable. items such as paper. Ensure they have a tip-over safety switch and are UL safety rating.
- At home, never leave candles unattended or in-reach of children or pets.
- Use battery-operated candles for your office or at on-campus departmental celebrations -- burning candles on campus is prohibited!
- If you have an outdoor fire pit, keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire.
- If you feel sick, do not host a party or attend a gathering.
- Instead of fireworks, use sparklers, glow sticks, or noise makers to ring in the new year. Each year, over 19,500 fires are caused by fireworks.
For those celebrating with a Christmas tree, make sure to recycle it after the holiday season through the Southern Nevada Christmas Tree Recycling Committee in partnership with our own Rebel Recycling. You can drop your used tree off on-campus at the Rebel Recycling Center or at 30 drop sites around the city. Recycled trees are diverted from landfills and turned into mulch for city landscaping projects.
If you have any questions about safe on-campus gatherings or overall safety precautions, contact Risk Management & Safety at 702-895–4226. The team hopes you have a wonderful and safe holiday season.