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How to stay safe and avoid fires during the holidays

Holiday shopping 122319
Posted at 11:31 AM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 12:31:44-05

During the holiday season, there are plenty of potential for fire hazards to appear thanks to Christmas trees, decorations, heating and candles.

To combat these hazards, the National Fire Protection Association has some tips to stay safe this holiday season. They say that holiday fire hazards contribute to an annual increase in U.S. home fires during the winter months.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are among the leading days of the year for home fires (topped only by Thanksgiving Day).

The NFPA says the majority of winter fires can be prevented with a little added awareness and planning.

Christmas Trees

  • An estimated average of 160 home fires that began when Christmas trees caught fire caused an average of two civilian deaths, 12 civilian injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage per year between 2015 and 2019.
  • Some type of electrical distribution or lighting equipment, including decorative lights, was involved in almost half of these fires. Nearly one in five Christmas tree fires were started by decorative lights.
  • Eight percent of Christmas tree fires were started by candles.
  • In nearly one-fifth of Christmas tree fires, the tree was too close to a heat source, such as candle or heating or lighting equipment.

How to pick out the best Christmas tree, according to Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry

Decorations

  • An estimated average of 790 home fires that began when decorations (other than Christmas trees) caught fire caused an average of one civilian death, 26 civilian injuries and $13 million in direct property damage per year between 2015 and 2019.
  • One in five home decoration fires occurred in December.
  • Year-round, 35 percent of home decoration fires began with candles; in December, the number jumped to 45 percent.
  • In more than two of every five fires (44 percent) involving decorations, the decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle, cooking or heating equipment.

Candles

  • An estimated average of 7,400 home fires (2 percent) started by candles caused an average of 90 civilian deaths (three percent), 670 civilian injuries (six percent), and $291 million (four percent) in direct property damage per year between 2015 and 2019.
  • Candle fires peak in December and January with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months.
  • In three of every five candle fires, the candle was too close to something that could catch fire.
  • Christmas is the peak day for candle fires with roughly 2.5 times the daily average; Christmas Eve ranked second.
  • Falling asleep was a factor in 10 percent of the home candle fires and 12 percent of the associated deaths.

Cooking

  • Cooking is the leading cause of reported home fires (49 percent) and home fire injuries and the second-leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires.
  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

NFPA says that fires caused by heating equipment, the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires year-round, peak during the winter months, when temperatures drop and more people use heating equipment to keep their homes warm.

Put a Freeze on Winter Fires, an annual NFPA campaign with the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), works to better educate the public about ways to stay safe during the colder months, offering tip sheets and other resources to help reduce the risk of heating fires and other winter hazards.

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