Fire Department Offers Tips to Keep Your Holidays Safe
The holiday season brings joy and goodwill, but it also can be a busy time of year for house fires when candles, space heaters and extension cords are in high use.
Fire officials say cooking is the leading cause of home fires locally and nationally, and the incidence of cooking fires increases over the holidays. Fires caused by candles also tend to increase during the holiday season. Nationally, Christmas Day is the peak day for candle-related fires.
“We want everyone to have a happy and safe holiday season,” said Clark County Fire Chief Bertral Washington. “You can prevent household fires this time of year by keeping some general tips in mind as you enjoy the holidays.”
The following tips are recommended:
Preventing Christmas Tree Fires
- Keep Christmas trees away from fireplaces, heaters and other heat sources.
- Select a fresh tree.
- Needles should be green and not break off easily. The trunk should be sticky.
- Water Christmas trees daily to keep them from drying out.
- Do not leave a live tree up for more than 2 weeks.
- If you are using an artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Holiday Lights & Decorations
- Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive wear before putting them up.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
- Limit use of extension cords to temporary uses. They should not serve as a permanent power source for any appliance or stationary device.
- Never run extension cords under rugs or furniture.
- Do not overload electrical outlets. Link no more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe.
- Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.
- Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Never dispose of wrapping paper in a fireplace.
- Place candles in stable holders and place them so they can’t be knocked over.
- Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
- Keep candles at least 3 feet away from table clothes, drapery or items that can burn. Over half (55 percent) of home candle fires start because the fire is too close to combustible material.
- Never fall asleep if a candle is burning. (Falling asleep is a factor in 12 percent of home candle fires and 26 percent of associated deaths. More candle fires, 38 percent, begin in the bedroom than any other room.)
- Never leave the house with candles burning.
- Beware of using candles for light. The risk of fatal fires appears higher when candles are used for light.
- Space heaters need at least three feet of clearance space from any combustible item, including bedding, curtains, furniture, paper, and clothing.
- Never leave a space heater on when you are not able to watch it.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters to ensure safety for everyone.
- Stay in the kitchen so you do not leave cooking food unattended.
- Always supervise children in cooking areas.
- Keep flammable materials – such as oven mitts, utensils, wrappers and towels – away from the stove.
- Stay alert. If you are tired or consuming alcohol, don’t cook. Fires often start when someone unintentionally turns on or forgets to turn off the oven or burners.
- Have a multi-purpose, ABC-rated fire extinguisher nearby. Every kitchen should have one.
If you have a cooking fire:
- For a small, stove-top fire, turn off the burner; then put a lid on the pan or pot to smother the fire.
- For an oven fire, turn off the oven and keep the door closed.
- Do not use water to put out a grease fire. Water will not extinguish a grease fire; instead water will splash the burning grease out of the pan and spread the fire. Use a lid, baking soda or fire extinguisher on the flames.
- Don’t take risks with fire. When in doubt, get out of the home and call 911. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 14th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 42 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.