Fire safety tips for the holiday season
The holiday season also is a time for greater fire risk.
Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Orlene Hawks and State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer advise residents to use caution, as the holidays are a peak time for home fires caused by unattended candles and space heaters, electrical problems with worn lights and dry Christmas trees.
“The holiday season is a joyous time of year,” Hawks said. “The state fire marshal and I urge all Michiganders to learn and follow basic fire safety tips that will help avoid a tragedy and ensure that our holidays are safe and enjoyable.”
The top three days for home candle fires occur on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. In many of the fires that occur near the holidays, people often fall asleep or leave their home with unattended candles left burning.
Michigan residents are warned to keep candles away from the tree, decorations, curtains and furniture that can catch fire. Always keep candles up high to prevent them from getting knocked over by children and pets and remember that battery-operated, flameless candles are the safest option.
Other fire safety tips for the holiday season include:
–Choose a fresh tree, water it daily and place it away from exits and at least 3 feet from any heat source, such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
— Never decorate your tree with lit candles; use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory for indoor or outdoor use.
— Any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections should be replaced; read the manufacturers’ instructions for the maximum number of light strands to connect and don’t overload electrical outlets or electrical outlet strips.
— Always turn off tree lights and extinguish candles when going to bed or leaving your home.
Increase the chances of surviving a residential fire by:
— Checking each smoke alarm monthly;
— Changing smoke alarms every 10 years;
— Changing the batteries in 9-volt smoke alarms every year;
— Installing a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in every sleeping area;
— Having a prepared and practiced fire escape plan with two ways out of the home.
Also remember to test smoke alarms of elderly family members and neighbors when visiting over the holidays. MI Prevention has identified that people over the age of 60 are at the greatest risk to die in residential fires in Michigan.
Those who need smoke alarms but have financial hardship can contact the Bureau of Fire Services at 517-241-8847.
For more fire safety information, go to the MI Prevention website, https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-89334_42271_92049—,00.html.