Holiday activities increase fire hazards
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Monday, November 19, 2012
11/19/12 at 4:16 AM
As the holidays near, people might be spending more time preparing meals in the kitchen, getting decorations up and lighting candles.
All are excellent ways to create a festive spirit, but they, along with an increased use of heating devices, are some of the reasons that home fires are more prevalent during the winter months, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Donita Quesnel, spokeswoman for the Tulsa chapter of the American Red Cross, said the best fire prevention method is to stay alert.
"Keep an eye out on those things you're using that might cause harm," she said. "If you've got food cooking on the stove, stay in the kitchen. If you've got candles in the home, be sure someone is in that room and extinguish them before bed."
Quesnel said to also remember to keep items that are a fire hazard away from children, such as placing candles in a place where they won't be accidentally knocked over.
Trees and lights
The U.S. Fire Administration encourages people to inspect their holiday lights before putting them up each year - checking for frayed wires, gaps in insulation and broken sockets. The administration also advises against overloading electrical outlets, suggesting that people not link more than three light strands.
When it comes to trees, the administration advises using a tree that is not dried out and not placing it near a heat source. Also, do not flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
While cooking those holiday meals, follow some of these general safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration and the Red Cross.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.
- Stay alert. Do not cook if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
Other fire hazards during the winter months are fire places, furnaces or space heaters.
Quesnel said furnaces and fire places should be professionally checked every year.
Space heaters should be placed on a surface that is not flammable, such as tile or concrete. Anything that can catch fire, such as curtains, should be at least three feet away from the heater.
The U.S. Fire Administration advises against using electrical space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they might come in contact with water.
Alarms, escape plans
Quesnel said the Red Cross also urges everyone to have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in their homes and to make sure they are working.
And remember to share your fire escape emergency plans with guests who are staying in your home, she said.
Original Print Headline: Holidays raise fire hazards
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World