Holiday Fire Safety Tips from the Alexandria Fire Department

by Lee Hernly, Editor

Decorating homes and businesses is a long standing tradition during the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations can increase the chance of fire. Follow these simple Christmas tree & holiday decoration fire safety tips to ensure a Happy Holidays. 

  • Take an extra minute to ensure all your home fire safety devices are prepared for the holidays. Clean and test your smoke alarm and make sure your portable fire extinguisher is pressurized and not blocked by all the extra holiday packages.
  • In the event of an emergency call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside the home.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking so that you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Keep children away from the stove; kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stove-top.
  • Turkey Fryer Tip: Set up the turkey fryer more than 10 feet away from your home and keep children and pets away. Never leave it unattended.
  • Turkey Fryer Tip: The oil must be even and steady at all times to ensure safety. Place the fryer on a flat, level surface and carefully gauge the amount of oil needed.
  • Turkey Fryer Tip: Make sure your Thanksgiving turkey is completely thawed and dry. Extra water will cause the oil to bubble furiously and spill over. If oil spills from the fryer onto the burner, it can cause a fire.
  • Turkey Fryer Tip: Use caution when touching the turkey fryer. The lid and handle can become very hot and could cause burns. Also be sure to keep track of the oil’s temperature as many fryers do not have their own thermostats.
  • Turkey Fryer Tip: Have a fire extinguisher (multipurpose, dry-powder) ready at all times in the event that the oil ignites.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Make sure your natural tree is a fresh one. Fresh needles won’t break when you bend them. Once you get your fresh tree home, cut off one to two inches of the trunk and place it in a stable holder. Keep the holder full of water, and the tree away from sources of heat, to keep your tree from drying out. \
  • Use only flame-proof decorations, and check the wiring on all your electrical decorations before you put them up. Avoid using extension cords to run your electrical decorations. Make sure your electrical decorations are tested and labeled.
  • Don’t use real candles as part of decorations. (Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.)
  • Don’t use your fireplace as a disposal site for wrapping paper, boxes, or your tree. These items should be disposed of properly with your normal trash.
  • Make sure that ashes and lit cigarettes don’t fall onto chairs, gifts, or wrapping paper. Don’t empty cigarette ashtrays into the trash.

For more information on this or other safety issues, please visit this link or contact the Community Services Unit at 703-746-5269

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