The holidays are just around the corner, and that means that fun and festivity are on the horizon.
Unfortunately, it also means that many households will face an increased fire risk in the coming months.
According to FEMA, there are nearly 156,000 residential structural fires each year during the holiday season.
All told, these fires claim an average of 630 lives and cause $936 million in property damage each year.
While holiday fire damage is devastating, it’s also avoidable.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how to protect yourself from fires this holiday season and how to keep your household safe as you deck the halls.
- To stay safe this holiday season, water live Christmas trees daily, keep them away from heat sources, never use candles to decorate your tree, use fire-resistant artificial trees, and never overload electrical connections.
- For Menorahs and Kinaras, use electric versions or keep traditional candles away from flammable items. Ensure outdoor decorations are safe for external use and avoid overloading outlets.
- Maintain kitchen safety by keeping flammable items away from heat sources, cleaning grease spills immediately, and never leaving cooking unattended.
- For fireplaces, use a fire screen, ensure embers are extinguished before leaving, and keep flammable materials at a safe distance.
- If you experienced a house fire, prioritize safety by evacuating the house, contact your insurance company, document all damage for claims, and seek professional restoration services like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore for fire and smoke damage restoration: 312-707-8597
Holiday Safety Tips for 2023
Follow these tips to reduce your fire risk this holiday season:
- If you bring a live tree into your home, water it daily to prevent dry, fire-prone needles and wood.
- Before you place a live tree in a stand, cut 2” off of the base of the trunk.
- Keep your tree at least 3’ from all heat sources, including radiators, fireplaces, and heat vents.
- NEVER use candles to decorate your tree. Preventable fires, like candle fires, peak in December and January, with a massive 11% of candle-caused fires occurring during those two months.
- Never plug more than three strings of lights into one another – use a power strip instead.
- Discard any light strings that are worn, frayed, or broken.
- Always unplug or turn off lights before going to sleep or leaving the house – put the lights on a timer to make this easy!
- After the holidays, avoid leaving a dead, dried-out tree in your garage or near your home since they’re highly flammable.
- If you buy an artificial tree, look for one with a fire-resistant label.
Menorahs and Kinaras
- If possible, purchase an electric menorah or kinara.
- If you prefer traditional candles, keep all flammable items at least 3 feet from the flame.
- Place the menorah or kinara on a stable, non-flammable surface.
- Place an aluminum-lined tray beneath the menorah or kinara to catch and contain melting candle wax.
- Keep lighters, matches, and other fire-starters away from kids.
- Never leave lit candles unattended.
- Only use decorations rated for outdoor use.
- If you use hooks or lights to hang outdoor decorations, ensure they’re insulated to prevent electrocution and fire hazards.
- Double-check all outdoor lights and electrical decorations for frayed wires or cracks. Make sure outdoor lights have a bulb in each socket.
- Use a power strip rated for outdoor use to plug in electrical decorations.
- Never overload electrical outlets, and be sure to keep all electrical cords away from standing water and snow.
- Use fire-resistant decorations whenever possible.
- When hanging outdoor lights, use a ladder made of wood or fiberglass, since metal ladders conduct electricity and can increase the risk of shock.
- Keep all outdoor decorations away from windows and doors and make sure they never block your home’s entrances or exits.
Cooking and Baking
- Keep kids, pets, and flammable items away from the oven and stove.
- If you spill grease while cooking, clean it up immediately to reduce the fire risk.
- Keep pan lids close to the stove so you can smother a fire quickly, if needed.
- When you’ve finished cooking, turn off all burners and remove pans from the stovetop.
- If you choose to deep fry a turkey, use the fryer outdoors, away from all structures and trees, and make sure the turkey is fully thawed before immersion.
- Never leave pots or pans unattended in the oven or on the stove.
- Never light the fireplace if you choose to hang stockings above it.
- If you have a live fire, use a fire screen to contain embers and logs.
- Make sure all embers are fully extinguished before leaving the house or going to sleep.
- Keep all flammable materials, including wrapped gifts, rugs, and window coverings at least 3 feet from an open flame.
What to do if You’ve Experienced a House Fire
If you’ve experienced fire damage, follow these steps to protect your home and family:
1. Get everyone to safety
Even after the flames are extinguished, fires can leave behind toxic residues like creosote and soot. To prevent illness from smoke inhalation and other hazards, get your pets and family out of the house and to a safe location.
2. Call your insurance company
Contact your insurance company immediately after a structural fire. They’ll help you start a fire damage claim and help you understand what to do next.
3. Document the damage
Take photos of all visible damage to your home, including exterior damage like broken windows or unsecured entrances.
You should also document damaged or destroyed belongings. These photos will be important as you file your insurance claim.
4. Contact a restoration company
If you have fire damage inside your home, contact a professional team like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore for fire and smoke damage restoration services.
In addition to being difficult to clean up on your own, fire and smoke damage can be hazardous to your health, so it’s wise to outsource the job to a professional who can do it safely.
1. What’s the leading cause of residential fires during the holidays?
Heating and cooking are the two leading causes of residential structure fires during the holiday season, followed closely by open flames and candles.
2. Does home insurance cover fire damage?
Yes. Homeowners insurance usually covers damages caused by accidental fires in and around the home. If your belongings are damaged or destroyed during a structure fire, homeowner’s insurance may help replace them.
3. What causes Christmas tree fires?
According to current data, 1 in every 5 Christmas tree fires were started by lamps or bulbs, while 6% were started by candles and open flames.
Dealing with Fire Damage in Chicago? We Can Help
If you’ve got fire damage in your Chicago home, you don’t have to face it alone this holiday season.
Our team can provide the fire and smoke damage restoration services you need to get life back to normal.