Tis the season to put up lights and break out the firewood, but while the fireplace may seem like an innocent enough place for Santa to use to drop in, it’s also a place where disaster could strike. As the weather turns cold, it’s a good time to remember to be safe while keeping the house warm.
According to Eric Holt, head of Lincoln County’s Emergency Management, “We do see anywhere from two to five fires during winter due to fireplaces or heaters.” However, there is also a lot of guidance available when it comes to properly heating a home during the coldest parts of the year. According to the emergency management website, one of the first things people need to check is their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, as these could save lives but are often ignored or turned off.
Heading into winter, ensure proper home insulation against cold temperatures and winter storms. Another precaution people should take is with decorating, as, according to the emergency management website, “holiday decorating injuries send more than 14,000 to the emergency room.” While this may seem like a great excuse to get out of putting up the lights, just ensure the equipment used is safe and well-maintained and avoid precarious situations. Remember, getting that inflatable snowman on the roof isn’t worth a possible fall.
Something else that could really put a damper on the holiday season is an improperly cared-for Christmas tree. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), some of the precautions while setting up a Christmas tree include finding a tree that is fresh and green. Keep the tree away from heat sources and make sure the tree is well watered while it’s in the home. When it comes to lighting the tree, avoid using frayed wires or broken bulbs, and definitely don’t use real candles.
But the main culprit of winter fires is heat sources. Ensure that firewood and spent embers are located far enough from the house that they cannot start a blaze and always put out all fires before going to bed. Make sure that flammable materials like curtains or fabric are kept away from fireplaces or space heaters, and keep any electric sources of heat properly maintained, from the heating element to the cord.
These tips and more can be found through the emergency management website, the Centers for Disease Control website and the NFPA website.
While enjoying the season, make sure to be vigilant, because as Eric Holt says, “Fire safety is definitely something that people have to be aware of.”