House Fire Threats Increase During Holidays, Safety Tips

Carmela Karcher

The holidays are here.

While gathering around the fire and taking in the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree is something to enjoy, there are ways to do it *safely.

“This is really when we start seeing an increase in structure fires,” Chief Sam DiGiovanna with the Verdugo Fire Academy said.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, behind Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the leading days of the year for house fires.

But, there are ways to prevent these fires before the festivities begin.

“We do see an increase in Christmas tree fires, especially several days after Christmas,” Chief DiGiovanna continued. “Make sure that your Christmas tree is well watered all the time. Most people do not do that and you’d be surprised how fast a Christmas tree, a dry tree, will go up in flames. It takes maybe 30 seconds or less to have that tree well involved in your living room or house fully involved in less than a minute. So, make sure you keep that Christmas tree well watered.”

The other most common holiday fire starter: decorations.

“Make sure you’re using lights designated for outdoor use only,” Chief DiGiovanna explained. “A lot of times people will use indoor cords for outdoor use. This causes your Christmas lights’ fuse to blow or trip. Use Christmas lights and any other electrical equipment that has been approved by a UL Laboratory, so you just don’t want to buy anything. Avoid using tacks and nails. If the nail goes into the cord, it can short it out or burn it up enough to cause an electrical fire on the outside. So never use that.”

Additionally, there is one place that many people forget to check before the temperatures dip and could cause a house fire.

“We forget about our fireplaces,” Chief DiGiovanna continued. “It is cold, but they do get a lot of soot buildup in them, so make sure that those fireplaces are cleaned out.”

Once the madness of Christmas morning is over, Chief DiGiovanna says to not throw old wrapping paper or Christmas tree clippings into the fireplace.

“I’m telling you, please do not do this. They take the gift wrappings and put them in the fireplace and burn them up with a log,” Chief DiGiovanna said. “That burns with a lot of heat and it’s very dangerous. People try to do that with their Christmas trees. After they take them down, they want to cut them up and put them in their fireplace. Please don’t do that because they burn extremely hot and you can have a house fire very easily by doing so. So, avoid that.”

Another tip: make sure your smoke detectors are working.

To make sure it is functioning, push the test button on the detector and it should beep.

If not, change the battery and secure it back into its place.

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