CHICAGO – The American Red Cross is offering safety tips to prevent house fires over the holidays. They suggest besides testing your smoke detectors each month, that you should also use caution when heating your home, especially with space heaters. They say if you must use one, place it on a level, hard and non-flammable surface, and away from bedding and drapes. The Red Cross also suggests you turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep, and you should never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. Authorities say a fire can get out of control in a home in less than two minutes, and that getting out quickly is the difference between survival and tragedy.
How to Heat Your Home Safely
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes; keep away children and pets.
- Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
- Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.
Decorate Your Home Safely for the Holidays
The holiday season is here and many of us are still putting up our home decorations. If you plan to use candles as part of your holiday decorations, consider the flameless kind – as a December is the peak month for candle fires. The risk is so common that nearly one-third of us have left the room or fallen asleep while burning candles, according to a 2020 Red Cross survey. If you must use candles, never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn and place them out of reach from children and pets.
The Red Cross urges everyone to follow these decorating safety tips to prevent fires and injuries:
- Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together – no more than three per extension cord. Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
- Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid electrocution or fire hazard.
- Look for the fire-resistant label when buying an artificial tree. Keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.
- If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings on the mantel.
- Check the labels of older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
- Have good, stable placement when using a ladder and wear shoes that allow for good traction.