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Flaming Christmas Trees!

Christmas tree fires are rare, however when they do occur they are serious!

Trees can become fire hazards when they dry out.  See the difference between a dry tree catching fire and a tree that was watered regularly.

A demonstration showing how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree watered regularly. This test was conducted by the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories.

 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) tracks fires and their causes in the United States. Here are some statistics copied  from the its website:

  • “Between 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, one of every 31 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires.”*

5 strategies for preventing Christmas tree fires!

Start with a freshly cut tree!

  • Pick a tree with a strong green colour and noticeable fragrance.
  • Very few needles should fall when the butt of the tree is tapped on the ground.
  • Needles should bend, not break.
  • The branches should be hard to break.
  • The stump should be sticky with resin.

Keep the tree from drying out!

The moisture content of each tree can play a dominant role in determining the fire hazard each tree represents.” **

  • Fresh cut the bottom 2 to 5 cm of trunk right before you put the tree in its stand.  The fresh cut will assist the tree to drink more water.
  • Water the tree!  The tree stand should holds 2-4 litres of water. A two-metre tall tree will drink about two litres every day. Check and top-up the water every day.  I check twice a day.  If water drops below the base of the trunk, the stem may reseal itself. requiring a new fresh cut
  • Use a preservative in the water. If you are concerned about small children or pets drinking the water, use a small amount of sugar instead.
  • Heat dries out the tree. Keep the tree away from all heat sources: heating vents or registers, fireplaces, candles and cigarettes.
  • Do not leave the tree up for longer than 10 to 14 days.  Even the freshest tree starts to dry out in two weeks.  NFPA statistics have found that almost  40% of Christmas tree fires occur in January.

Use safe extension cords!

Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 38% of home Christmas tree fires.” *

  • Try to position the tree so you do not have to use long extension cords.
  • Do not overload wall outlets.
  • Inspect all cords before using. Make sure they are CSA certified. Look for loose connections or frayed or exposed wire. Discard any defective cords.
  • Insert plugs fully into outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.
  • Do not coil or bunch an extension cord which is in use and do not run it under carpets or rugs.

Use safe lights!

  • Use Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certified light strings/sets.
  • Use the proper lights for the environment.  Some outdoor light strings/sets burn too hot indoors.
  • Inspect light strings/set before use. Check for cracked bulbs and for frayed, broken or exposed wires, and discard if faulty.
  • Turn off the lights before going to bed or leaving the house.

Choose safe decorations!

  • Choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive.
  • Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes. This combination is highly combustible.
  • Do not use metallic ornaments on the tree. If they make contact with defective wiring they could become a shock hazard.

Then enjoy!

Happy Holidays from Home Risky Home!

 

* Source: NFPA’s “Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees” report, November 2015**
** Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology “Fire on the Web” page accessed December 2015

 

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9 Kitchen Fire/Burn Prevention Tips!

9 Kitchen Fire/Burn Prevention Tips!

One Christmas long ago, when I was about 19-20 years old, I helped prepare the family feast.  We always invited guests to join us for dinner at Christmas.  We enjoyed cocktails in the living-room while the large turkey roasted in the oven.  The longer the turkey took to cook, the more we drank.  That year the bird was taking too long to cook, so I turned up the heat in the oven.   Too high in fact –  I could hear the fat in the drippings splattering.  I went to take the turkey out of the oven with tea towels for pot holders.  The pan was too hot! I dropped it on the opened oven door and fat splattered onto my bare foot.  My father recovered the bird and I left the scene to tend to the large second degree burn on my foot. My accident could have been prevented if I had practiced safe cooking techniques.

When it comes to burns and fires, the kitchen is the most dangerous room in the house. Kitchen fires are a big concern this time of year, fortunately most can be prevented with these tips.

  1. Never leave grilling, frying or broiling food unattended. Forty per cent (40%) of cooking-fire related deaths occur because the cooking was unattended. If you have to leave the kitchen unattended while the food is cooking –  turn the burner off.
  2. If you are frying – heat the oil slowly to the required temperature.  If the oil smokes, it is too hot!  Turn the heat off or carefully move the pan off the element. Keep a lid handy to smother any fire.
  3. If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  4. Keep cooking areas clean – wipe appliances and surfaces after cooking to prevent grease build-up.
  5. Keep cooking surfaces clutter free. Do not store combustible objects near the stove.  Curtains, potholders, dishtowels and food packaging can easily catch fire.
  6. Always turn pot handles inwards to prevent the pots from getting knocked.
  7. Dress appropriately for cooking. Wear sturdy shoes to protect your feet.  Don’t wear loose clothing that can dangle over heating elements.  Use pot holders or oven mitts to handle dishes and pots with hot food.
  8. Be on alert! If you are sleepy, are taking drowsy medication or have consumed alcohol take a pass on cooking and either let someone else cook or order your food in.
  9. Keep children at least one meter away from the stove.

The strategy for putting out grease and oil fires is to smother them and turn off the heat source.

  • A fire in a pot may be extinguished by  sliding a lid onto the pot and turning off the heating element. Do not try to carry the pot outside – jarring the lid may restart the fire.  Make sure the pot is cool before removing the lid.
  • Shallow grease fires may be smothered with baking soda.
  • A fire in the oven or microwave  may be extinguished by keeping the door closed and turning the appliance off.  Wait for the burning food to cool before opening the door.
  • Never pour water on oil or grease fires!  Water will cause the fire to spread instead of putting it out.

 

I hope that you enjoy cooking during this festive season!

 

 

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