Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 2:55 am | Fair 66º


Lompoc City Fire Department Encourages Fire Safety During Holiday Season

Are you ready for a safe holiday season?  Historically the U.S. has suffered many tragic losses during a season that is supposed to be one of joy and giving.

The National Fire Protection Association reports a number of alarming statistics.

In 2013, Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) was the leading date for home cooking fires with 1,550, which was 230 percent above the average number of fires per day.

Between 2009-13, nationwide fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees each year. These fires caused an average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries and $17.5 million in direct property damage.

On average, 1 of every 31 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of 1 death per 144 total reported home fires.

Electrical problems were factors in 3 out of 10 home Christmas tree structure fires. Of those Christmas tree fires, 39 percent started in the living room, family room or den.

Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths, and cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and associated civilian injuries and was the third leading cause of home fire deaths.

With these facts in mind, make safety a holiday priority with the following kitchen tips:

» Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the cooking process, and stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.

» Keep children at least 3 feet away from the stove. Make sure they also stay away from hot food and liquids, as the steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

» Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

» Keep knives out of the reach of children.

» Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.

» Always keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children, such as up high in a locked cabinet.

» Candles are dangerous when not used properly.  Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle and never leave home with a candle burning.

» Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Safety around the Christmas tree is also integral to a happy holiday season:

» If you chose an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. If you choose a live tree, make sure it's fresh with green needles that do not fall off when touched.

» Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1" - 2" from the base of the trunk, make sure the tree does not block an exit and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.

» Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to add water daily.

» Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.

» Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.

» Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. 

» Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

» When decorating the outside of your house, never staple or nail a string of lights to your eaves.

» Check the light to assure that it is labeled for outdoor use or use in wet locations. Turn the lights off when you are gone and when you go to bed.

» After Christmas get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and you should place the tree at the curb after the first of the year and the Solid Waste Division will pick it up.

The Lompoc City Fire Department wishes you all a happy and joyful holiday season. Don’t become a statistic.  

Click here to view the following YouTube video to get a feeling of what a Christmas tree fire looks like.

— Kurt Latipow is the fire chief for the Lompoc City Fire Department.


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