In the time between Christmas and New Years, many people are home on vacation from work. They have relatives in town or friends frequenting their homes. Fires in the home often spark in this time, due to inattention, holiday chaos and celebration, say the experts.
Just because that candle smells like cookies doesn’t mean it won’t burn your house down. Here are a few tips to help prevent that from happening. Perhaps you’ll clip this article and hang it on the refrigerator after reviewing it with your family.
Cooking can be a cause of residential fires because distracted cooks forget to watch the stove top. Never leave a hot burner unattended; grease fires start in seconds. Keep clothing, clutter and children away from the stove, and your kitchen will be more fire-safe. Grease fires can be put out by pouring baking soda on the pan. The Rockingham Fire Department recommends creating a three-foot buffer zone around the stove, and keeping children and pets out of that area, as hot grease and boiling water can splash that far.
Candles belong in sturdy containers or holders, far from curtains, greenery, paper, gifts, and children’s reach. Never leave them burning unattended. The Rockingham Fire Department suggests putting the candles in a dish deep enough to contain all the wax.
If you have a candle in a glass jar and you just want it to fill the room with a pleasant smell, you can purchase hotplates that warm the jar and release the scent without having to light it.
The Rockingham Fire Department also recommends, “When you go out, blow out.”
Be aware that decorations can cause a fire. Water your natural Christmas tree every day. A fresh, green tree will hardly burn; a dry one can ignite an entire room in seconds. Make sure light cords are in good condition and don’t overload electrical sockets. The Rockingham Fire Department advises you to purchase lights and cords with UL tags on them, which means they have been tested and are safe. Unplug your tree and other lights when you leave your home. Finally, keep greenery and heat sources 3 feet apart — and avoid fresh greens on the fireplace mantel.
Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace; it’s a frequent cause of chimney fires. If you haven’t had your chimney inspected for a year or more, do it before you light that crackling holiday fire and the creosote build-up turns it into something very unpleasant.
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home and near sleeping areas. You should test your alarms every week and make sure that you can hear them from behind closed doors. Involve children in the testing so that they know what the alarm sounds like and what they should do if it goes off. You should also change the batteries at least twice a year. An easy way to remember to change the batteries is to do it every time you change the clock for daylight savings time.
Before an emergency occurs, discuss with your family what you will do in such an event. Decide on a safe place to meet outside your home, and be sure your children know to stay on the floor in the event of a fire, as heat and smoke rise. In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1.
The Rockingham Fire Department has two stations. Station one is located at 231 S. Lawrence St. They can be contacted at 910-997-4002. Station two is located at 860 Roberdel Road, and can be reached at 910-895-0336.
The Hamlet Fire Department is located at 201 W. Main St., and can be contacted at 910-582-2441.
The Ellerbe Fire Department is located at 116 W. Page St., and can be contacted at 910-652-2536.
Hoffman Fire and Rescue is located at 3373 U.S. Highway 1 S., and can be contacted at 910-281-3404.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.