The Minneapolis Fire Department wants to help people celebrate safely this holiday season. Cooking, heating, and candles are at the center of most winter holiday celebrations, and they’re also the top three causes of home fires. Alcohol can compound the fire risk.
Candles, trees and decorations
Holiday decorations should be checked to ensure they are flame-retardant or non-combustible. Put your holiday tree in a sturdy stand that will not tip over and stand the tree well away from a heat source, your fireplace and exits. Water daily to keep the tree fresh. Make sure artificial trees are labeled “flame retardant.”
If you have a fire in your fireplace, find another location to hang your Christmas stockings. Dispose of fireplace ashes only after they are completely cold.
Always keep candles as well as matches and lighters up high and out of the reach of children. Never leave candles unattended, and never leave children or pets in a room with a burning candle.
Have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home
Have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of your home and one carbon monoxide alarm within 10 feet of every bedroom. Folks should test their alarms every month and replace the batteries twice a year. It is a great idea to check them at the start of the new year
Look when you cook
Most house fires start in the kitchen and unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires. The Minneapolis Fire Department encourages folks to follow these simple rules whenever they’re cooking:
- Remain in the kitchen when using the stovetop. If you have to leave, turn the stovetop off until you return.
- Stay awake, and in the house, while using the oven. If you have to leave the house, turn the oven off until you return.
- Keep your cooking area clean; keep towels, hot pad holders, storage containers, and other combustibles away from the hot stove.
Practice safe heating
It’s important to keep your furnace in good working condition, have it inspected annually, and replace the furnace filters every month. If you have to use a space heater, follow these guidelines:
- Use space heaters only in occupied rooms.
- Keep heaters at least 3 feet from any combustible materials – including furniture, walls, drapes, and bedding.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Never use space heaters while sleeping.
Be careful if you smoke
Falling asleep with a lit cigarette is the number one cause of fire-related deaths, causing approximately half of them. If you smoke in your home, follow these rules:
- Never smoke in bed.
- Do not smoke when tired.
- Discard cigarette butts only after completely extinguished. Use water when possible.
- Use heavy, spill-proof ashtrays.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children and out of their reach.
Families should plan for exit routes and a safe place to meet after a fire to account for everyone. Practice how to get out of the house if there is a fire and make sure all doors and windows that are to be used can be opened by the user.