Be aware of increased fire risk during holiday season

Hectic nature of the holidays combined with activities that are the leading causes of firecan increase fire risk.

The Christmas holiday season is upon us, and with it an increased risk of household fires.

“As everyone gets busier during the holidays, we often become rushed, distracted or tired,” says Scott Driver, Fire Prevention Coordinator of Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services. “That’s when home fires are more likely to occur.”

Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services wants people to be aware that the hectic nature of the holidays can increase fire risk, when people are trying to accomplish multiple tasks at one time, combined with activities that are the leading causes of fire —  like cooking. Christmas trees, candle usage and holiday decorations —  significantly contribute to the seasonal causes of home fires.

Driver said that with a little added awareness and some minor adjustments to holiday cooking and decorating, the season can remain festive and safe for everybody. “By taking some preventative steps and following simple rules of thumb, most home fires can be prevented,” Driver said in a press release from  Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services.

With unattended cooking as the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, Driver says to stay in the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling or broiling food. “Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it, and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time. If you’re simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.”

Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services also suggests creating a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and drinks are prepared or carried.

Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, and December is the peak month for home candle fires. The nonprofit National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) statistics show that more than half of all candle fires start because the candles had been too close to things that could catch fire.

Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services encourages residents to consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles. However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least 12″ away from anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces. Avoid using candles in the bedroom where two in five candle fires begin or other areas where people may fall asleep. Lastly, never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle.