The air is crisp and Jack Frost has certainly been nipping at the noses of Midwesterners in the past few weeks. You, like many in Chicago, are preparing to host family and friends with feasts, libations and festive décor abound. If your family celebrates Christmas, you may be anticipating a visit from a jolly 'ol fat man in a red suit.
Unfortunately, Christmas trees caused approximately 210 homes to catch fire between 2010 and 2014. The fires caused 6 deaths, 16 injuries and over $16 million in property damage per year. Of these fires, an electrical or lighting device of some kind was involved in 35% of Christmas tree fires. Two out of five tree fires began in the living room family room or den. However you choose to celebrate, you will want everyone to enjoy the celebrations safely.
Holiday decorations, candles and cooking
Aside from Christmas trees, homes decorated with other adornments are the cause of approximately 860 structural fires each year. Decoration fires caused one death, 41 injuries and over $13 million in property damage each year. Other statistics you should be aware of:
- Ten percent of the decoration fires were intentional.
- In 45 percent of home fires, the decoration was too close to a candle or other heat source.
- Fires began in the kitchen 20 percent of the time, while one of six began in the living room, family room or den.
- Decoration fires occurred in December 20 percent of the time.
- Peak cooking fires are Thanksgiving and then Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
- Decorations too close to cooking equipment.
- Candles caused 38 percent of all decoration fires and are more likely to occur in December.
- Christmas, New year's Day and Christmas Eve are the most common days for candle fires.
10 ways you can stay safe
The statistics can be frightening, but don't worry...you can stay safe when you follow these simple safety tips.
1. Find a Christmas tree that is fresh and green.
2. Water your tree daily to make sure your tree stays hydrated.
3. Only use decorative lights and other ornaments that are flame-retardant.
4. Each year check your holiday lights for excessive wear or fraying wire.
5. Limit light connections to no more than three strands of mini-string sets and no more than 50 screw-in bulbs.
6. Keep trees and decorations 3 feet or more away from the fireplace, radiators, candles or any other heat sources.
7. Keep your tree from blocking exits.
8. Turn all decorative lights off before leaving the home or going to bed.
9. Toss your tree once it begins to drop its needles.
10. Always check your smoke alarm to make sure it is warmly properly.
With these few safety measures in place, you can rest easy as your loved ones dream of sugar plums. Happy holidays from our family to yours.