Make fire safety part of your celebration

STOW – Fire officials urge people to make fire safety an important part of planning for their holiday celebrations because more home fires happen on December 25 than any other single day in Massachusetts except Thanksgiving.
“Start by making sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. “Fires are always terrible, but they seem worse during the festive holiday season.”
Cooking Leading Cause
“Cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home and the holiday season is no exception,” he said. “It is important to remember two key things: Stand by Your Pan to prevent cooking fires and to Put a Lid on It if one does occur.”
“Leaving cooking unattended, even for a minute, is the leading cause of fires,” said Coan. “Cooking is the leading cause of home fires throughout the year and during the holiday season.” When baking, use a timer, and stay nearby
On December 25, 2014, at 4:43 p.m., the Leominster Fire Department was called to a cooking fire in a 12-unit apartment building. The fire started in a first floor kitchen. Heat from the stove ignited the wall behind it. Smoke alarms were present and operated and no one was injured. The home did not have any sprinklers and the total estimated dollar loss was $11,000.
Heating Second Leading Cause of Holiday Season Fires
Heating is the second leading cause of home fires during the holiday season.
“Keep warm and keep safe by having the furnace and chimney checked by professionals, and when heating with wood, dispose of the ashes in a lidded metal ashcan outside the home,” said Coan. A single ember can stay hot undetected for days. Use the three foot rule keeping combustibles, like holiday decorations, three feet away from heat sources.
On December 12, 2014, the Hubbardston Fire Department responded at 7 a.m. to fire in a single family home. An ember from the woodstove ignited the wall. There were smoke alarms in the home. No occupants were injured but one firefighter was. Total damages were $150,000.
Burn Candles Inside a 1-Foot Circle of Safety
“Many of the holidays celebrated at this time of year use candles,” he said. “Sadly, the increased candle use at this time of year also causes a boost in candle fires.”
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are among the December days when the most candle fires occur.
On December 24, 2014, at 2:15 a.m., the Lowell Fire Department was called to a candle fire in a 13-unit apartment building. The fire began in a first floor apartment’s living room when the wallpaper ignited. Alarms were present and alerted the occupants No one was injured at this fire. There were no sprinklers and damages from this fire were estimated to be $15,000.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips
Although Christmas tree fires are rare these days, they are very serious when they do occur. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one-third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems and one-quarter start when the tree is placed too close to a heat source such as a fireplace, woodstove, radiator or space heater.
“Always keep your Christmas trees watered, place it well away from a heat source, and dispose of them after the holidays,” he said.
For more information on fire safety, contact your local fire department or the Department of Fire Services at 1-877-9-NO FIRE or on-line at http://www.mass.gov/dfs and search on Winter Holiday Safety.

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