In regard to holiday fire safety, “I don’t believe in scaring people,” Telgian CEO James Tomes recently told PEOPLE Magazine. “But there have been some horrific fires and deaths.” In his interview for the PEOPLE Magazine article “Fire-Safety Tips for the Holidays: How to Decorate, Celebrate and Avoid Tragedy” Tomes explored numerous aspects of holiday fire safety, offering essential tips to keep families safe during the festive season.
Holiday Light Safety
- Check the age and condition of holiday lights. If they are old, cracked, or appear to be in poor condition, replace them.
- Not all lights are rated for outdoor use. Pay careful attention to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- When purchasing new lights, always look for the UL, or other certifying body symbol. UL, which stands for Underwriters Laboratories, tests and evaluates components and products that allows a certification mark to be placed by the manufacturer. UL approval offers assurance that the safety and performance claims behind a product have been thoroughly verified. (Click here to learn more about UL Certification)
- Use plastic clips especially designed for hanging outdoor light, not a staple gun.
- Pay close attention to how many strands of lights can be safely linked together. The limit for incandescent strands is generally between 3-5. However, newer LED strands can often be linked up to 25 strands. Specific information should be posted on the manufacturer’s packaging.
- At the end of the season, carefully wrap lights to protect cords and store in a plastic container to guard against mice or other damage.
Christmas Tree Fire Safety
- When purchasing a real tree, make sure needles are not already falling off. A dry tree is a dangerous one.
- Upon purchase, a fresh cut (cutting at least 2 inches from the tree’s bottom) will allow the tree to absorb more water, keeping it fresher, longer.
- Watering daily is crucial.
- Keep your tree a minimum of 3 ft. away from heat sources, including a fireplace.
- Never use real candles on a Christmas tree.
- While an artificial tree treated with fire retardant spray will still burn, faux greenery is always a safer choice.
A Fire Safe Fireplace
- Although St. Nick might disagree, stockings should never be hung on a fireplace in use. Move stockings and other flammable decorations, such as Christmas cards and greenery, if you are using the fireplace.
- Two out of every five decoration fires happen because decorations were placed too close to a heat source. This includes not only fireplaces, but also radiators, space heaters, kitchen stoves, or anything with an open flame.
- When opening gifts, keep wrapping paper and trimmings away from a roaring fireplace.
Burning Candles Safely
- A third of all decoration house fires are caused by candles.
- Pets, children, and tipsy guests can easily knock over a lit candle. If using real flame candles, make sure your candles are freestanding and not near things that can burn.
- Use battery operated candles when placing candles in an Advent wreath.
- Never pile up gifts, stuffed animals or greenery around a Menorah.
- Remember to extinguish every candle before going to bed or leaving the house.
Holiday Cooking Safety
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires. If something cooks down too far, it can catch fire in the bottom of the pan. Even more common is when cooking something that bubbles over.
- Keeping a fire extinguisher in the kitchen is important, and it’s essential that you know how to use it. Remember to “PASS” – pull the pin, aim, squeeze, sweep.
- Click to learn more about How to Use a Fire Extinguisher.
Finally, before bedtime it’s important to do a sweep of the house. Extinguish all candles, check to make sure nothing is still on the stove, and turn off all holiday lights. Tomes explains, “if you’re asleep and something happens, you have less time to react. Plus, by the time you’re awake and aware of what’s going on, the house may already be filled with flames and smoke.”
Visit People Magazine to read the article in its entirety and click here for additional Holiday Fire Safety Tips.
For media inquiries and interviews with James Tomes, please contact Susan McNeill, firstname.lastname@example.org.