WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Lights, decorations and trees are what many people associate with the holidays. While the holidays are a joyful time to enjoy food, family and friends, it can also be a time when homes are more prone to fires.
The Williams Fire Department has a theme this holiday season — Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 30 percent of all home fires and 30 percent of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January, and February. To prevent injury and promote safely enjoying the holiday season, Williams Fire offers several tips.
- Water fresh trees daily. Place trees at least three feet from fireplaces, heaters and other sources of heat.
- Check all the lights before decorating. Inspect all decorative lights before putting them on the tree or around the home.
- Make sure all smoke alarms are working. A working smoke alarm should be on every floor and outside all sleeping areas.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms. Household appliances, such as gas furnaces, central heating systems, water heaters and cookers may be possible sources of carbon monoxide gas.
- Know how to escape the home. Practice an emergency plan with everyone in the household, including guests and children.
- Use extension cords wisely. Make sure cords do not go under rugs, since this can cause damage that could lead to a fire.
- Give space heaters and wood stoves space. If using space heaters to stay warm, keep them at least three feet from curtains, upholstery or other combustibles.
- When you go out, blow out. Candles add ambiance to any holiday festivity, but never use candles on or near a Christmas tree. Avoid placing them were they can be knocked over. Never go to sleep with a candle burning.
- Watch what is heated. When guests are over, be careful to continually monitor any cooking in the kitchen. Always stay in the kitchen when cooking, especially if cooking with oil or high temperatures.
- Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children. Matches and lighters can be deadly in the hands of children. Smokers should keep only one lighter or book of matches and keep them nearby all the time.
- Encourage smokers to smoke outside. Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires.
- Drink responsibility. Many fire deaths are caused by people attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol.
“Many fires are from heating and people overloading circuits,” said Williams Fire Captain Ryan Kopicky. “Whether it be Christmas lights or other appliances in the house.”
Kopicky said it is important to keep flammables at least three feet from any heat source in the home.
“This would be things like fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters,” he said.
Some residents heat homes with generators which create carbon monoxide.
“Carbon monoxide is often called the invisible killer, because it is odorless,” Kopicky said.
Kopicky said one of the best prevention measures is having carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in the house.
“That often gives people the time to be able to get out of the house and call 911,” he said.
Kopicky also said it is important to have a qualified chimney sweep inspect the chimney each year. Kopicky said the department responded to a chimney fire last year where two inches of creosote had built up inside the chimney.
“Make sure somebody qualified is doing it,” he said “Get it inspected, swept and get the stove cleaned out.”
Kopicky said the holiday season is also a good time to sit down with children and discuss a fire evacuation plan.
“Show them how to get out of their rooms, create an escape plan, show them how to dial 911 and have a meeting spot,” he said.