Holiday Decorating and Heating Safety Tips from the MFRD

As we enter into the cold month of December, our minds shift to staying warm and holiday decorating. Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department would like to offer some holiday decorating and heating safety tips to assist your family with having a safe and happy holiday season.

First things first – Let’s get warm! According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), half of all home heating fires occur in December, January, and February. It is important to note that heating equipment is involved in one of every seven home fires and one in every five fire deaths.

Items to consider:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from any heat source (fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, or space heaters).
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free” zone around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far as possible from your home.
  • Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
  • Have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents every year.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container, and keep it outside at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby buildings.

NFPA reports that more than half of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles and warns that candles should be kept at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.

While not extremely common, Christmas tree fires are also something to consider. On average, 1 of every 45 reported Christmas tree fires resulted in death. Heat sources close to the tree cause one in four of those fires. Therefore, you should make sure to have at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents. Also, make sure your tree is not blocking an exit. Always be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect and to determine if your lights are rated for indoor or outdoor use or both.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips:

  • When selecting a live tree, choose one with fresh, green needles that do not fall when touched.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Add water to the tree stand daily.
  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Get rid of the tree when it is dry! Dry trees should never be left in the home or garage. Bring outdoor electrical lights in after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

For more information on ways to keep your family safety during this cold holiday season, please visit www.nfpa.org.

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