Monday, December 7, 2009

Your holiday cheer doesen't have to go up in smoke

Careful preparations and common sense will make this season a fire-free, happy holiday for your family.

Keeping your family safe during the holidays is top priority so that all can enjoy the lights, the glitter and the sights of the season. Seasonal fires claim more than 400 lives, 1,650 injured and more than $990 million in property damage.

Here are some simple tips that don’t take much time but will make your family fun last.

  • Make a plan. You should do this anyway, so sit down as a family and discuss who is in charge of what should you have to evacuate the house. Using a floor plan, identify two ways out of each room and agree on a place to meet once you have evacuated. The National Fire Protection Association has a great floor plan to download that you can customize for your home.
  • Choose a tree. Choose a tree that is fresh and green. Branches should be hard to pull back and the needles will not shed. Test for a sticky trunk and always have the tree lot person make a fresh cut at the bottom of the trunk. Trees are very thirsty.
  • Water your tree. A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the 24 hours after it is cut, and one or more quarts every day after. Maintaining a steady water level prevents the needles from drying out and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. Water will also keep the tree fragrant. Do not allow the water pan to empty or go below the tree base.
  • Let there be lights. Part of the Christmas tradition is all glitter and lights. Don’t try to skimp by with old, frayed light strings or broken sockets. Should these catch on fire, you’ll be spending more than you could ever believe. LED lights are in now and use 90% less electricity than regular Christmas lights, reducing your impact on the environment. Up front, these lights are more expensive but over a period of years, they more than pay for themselves.
  • Plug ‘em in. Overloading a wall outlet is not a good idea. Purchase some surge protectors and plug your strands of lights in there first, and the surge protector into the wall. Turn the lights off when you retire for the night.
  • Candle light. The glow of candle light makes the holiday warm, but candles should be attended at all times and not left burning if you leave the house. Fireplaces are the same, and refrain from burning wrapping paper in the fireplace. Sparks could ignite and fly on to flammable materials.
  • DO have a wonderful holiday season. With just a few precautions, your family will be safe, happy and warm.
Written by Myra Vandersall

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