Thanksgiving came and went in a flurry, followed quickly by shopping pandemonium on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. At this point in the holiday season, most folks are planning their Christmas dinners and decorating their homes. And although the Christmas season is a wonderful time of year, there are a lot of hazards around the home that could easily go wrong.
Some of them are caused by too much eggnog, or celebrating perhaps a bit too ardently and fervidly to reign in the new year. But fortunately, most of these terrible mishaps are easily avoided with a few simple safety precautions. To protect your loved ones, home, and Christmas, remember to use caution and good judgment to avoid the following common Christmas accidents.
Fireplaces and Wood Stoves
One of the best things about Christmas is gathering the family in front of a warm fireplace or wood burning stove. But fireplaces pose health and safety risks, especially if you aren’t prepared. A stray ember could ignite a Christmas tree, or a rogue piece of firewood could set carpets and other fabrics ablaze.
Christmas lights are a lot safe than they used to be, but there’s still the potential for electrical fires. In addition to Christmas lights, electrical decorations on your house can cause fires on your roof. Make sure that you don’t overload a circuit or use old and outdated Christmas lights. Though most people leave the lights on when they’re not at home, using a timer or shutting them off manually is much safer.
Fires Started By Candles
Candles are a quintessential part of the Christmas experience as well. They have significance in a lot of traditions including the Feast of Lights and strong ties to Christianity too. Regardless of their history, they have become a mainstream component of most people’s Christmas decorations. Furthermore, holiday scented candles are in season, but they pose a massive risk.
Remember not to leave lit candles unattended, and remember to keep them away from flammable materials. Christmas trees, wrapping paper, cooking ingredients (like cooking oils), and other substances can give fire the opportunity it needs to put your family at risk.
Though you may have thought the largest cooking disaster is accidentally burning the turkey, remember that cooking accidents are among the most common causes for fire damage. Never leave your oven or burners unattended, and remove any flammable materials from hot surfaces.
Christmas Tree Fires
I’m sure most homeowners have seen videos of how fast Christmas trees can ignite into a raging inferno, caused by a seemingly harmless candle or string of lights that were defective. But take a moment to watch the video again. It’s shocking and alarming to see that one Christmas tree can ignite an entire home in less than a single minute.
The root cause for these fires is failing to water genuine trees. When they aren’t watered, they become exponentially flammable and dry. There are several solutions and safety precautions that can stave of a potential fire, though. The first solution is to simply purchase an artificial tree. However, some people can’t bear to part with the tradition of buying a real tree.
In that case, your next best countermeasure is to keep your tree well watered. Keep your tree in an basin or pot that can hold significant amounts of water. The general rule of thumb is to water your tree daily with 1 quart of water for every inch of the trunk’s diameter. Doing so won’t make a Christmas tree impervious to fire, but will certainly mitigate the risk of a tiny spark reducing your tree and home to cinders.
- Test your smoke detectors – First and foremost, make sure that your smoke detectors are supplied with fresh batteries. In addition, remember to test them out. A smoke detector could mean the difference between life and death, and it only takes a few minutes to maintain them
- Keep a fire extinguisher – Make sure that you have a fire extinguisher readily available, and that it isn’t old and dysfunctional. Keep one near your Christmas tree, fireplace, and kitchen.
If you’re unfortunate enough to experience fire damage in your home, remember to take action as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the more time harmful chemicals and ash have to cause further damage, and breathing harmful vapors and particles from debris can be hazardous to your health.