Mon, Dec 7th 2015 07:00 am
lights, candles: check your holiday safety list -twice!
by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York
The holiday season has begun to bustle! People are
celebrating, decorating with lights, putting up Christmas trees, lighting
candles and preparing special meals. The Firemen's Association of the State of
New York would like to remind all New Yorkers of the safety hazards associated
with festivities this time of the year, and to follow a few simple tips to
ensure a happy and safe holiday.
"These tips should be at the top of every holiday
list," FASNY President Robert McConville said. "For safety's sake, please check
older electric light strands for frayed wiring or broken bulbs; keep candles
away from combustible materials such as curtains; and continually hydrate your
Christmas tree so it doesn't dry out. We see more and more fires happening
during the holidays, so we urge you to follow this advice to enjoy a happy,
festive time while keeping your home and family safe."
Between 2007-11, fire departments in the U.S.
responded to more than 10,000 house fires that were caused by candles. An additional
230 house fires in that same period can be traced to dry and/or poorly wired
Christmas trees. Nearly half of all fires during the holiday season are started
because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. (Source: NFPA)
FASNY and the National Fire Protection Association
offer the following safety tips:
a Christmas tree -
- Check a tree for dryness while at the seller's lot -
shake the trunk above a light-colored surface and watch for falling needles. If
too many dry needles fall, choose a fresher tree. A locally grown tree from New
York may be fresher than one brought in from out of state.
- Avoid trees with an artificial-looking green tint on
the branches or trunk - these trees may have been spray-painted to improve
their appearance. The paint used may be combustible and could be hazardous as
well. When in doubt, ask the seller if he or she sells painted trees.
- Have the merchant saw off an inch or two from the
trunk of the tree to help keep the tree fresh longer at home; also, if your
tree is left outside, placing the trunk in a bucket of water will help keep it
- When disposing of a tree, do not leave it inside a home or building; do not place it against the exterior of a home or building. In both
cases, the tree is likely dried out and thus poses an increased fire hazard.
holiday decorations and lighting -
- When possible, choose decorations made with flame-resistant,
flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. Look for these designations on the
- Purchase lights and electrical decorations stamped
with the name or symbol of an independent testing lab - for example, "UL," or
Underwriters' Laboratories - and always
follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance.
- Carefully inspect new and previously used light
strands. Look for frayed cables and replace any damaged or missing bulbs before
plugging lights in.
- Do not overload extension cords, "power strips" and
- When using power cords to illuminate outdoor
displays, ensure that they are designated for external or outdoor use only - never
use power cords that are meant for indoor use. This information is usually
indicated on the product's packaging.
- Turn lights off overnight. If possible, use a timer
device to turn your lights off automatically. This not only lessens the risk of
fire, but saves on your energy bills, as well.
•If you light
holiday candles or candelabras (menorahs, window candles, etc.) -
- Keep lighted candles and candelabras at least one
foot away from any combustible materials. Do
not place candles anywhere near window curtains, furniture, wrapped gifts
or anything else that could ignite.
- Place candles and candelabras where they cannot be
knocked down or tipped/blown over. If possible, keep the candle inside a
weighted holder or one with a wide base.
- Extinguish a candle before it burns to within two
inches of its holder.
- Never leave a lighted candle
unattended - extinguish a candle before leaving the room.
- Discourage the use of candles in bedrooms and other
areas where you may fall asleep.
- Store matches and lighters in high places, out of
the reach of children, and ideally inside a locked cabinet.
- Consider using battery-powered candles instead; if
using electrical, "plug-in" candles, follow manufacturers' instructions.
For more information, visit the National Fire
Protection Association's website at www.nfpa.org.
Founded in 1872, the Firemen's Association of the
State of New York represents the interests of the more than 90,000 volunteer
firefighters in New York. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.