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Fire Safety Tips for the Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebration, family, and decorations. These joyous times also bring new hazards and safety considerations for homes and businesses alike. Each year nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays, claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554M in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The increased use of candles, fireplaces, and combustible decorations means more risk for fire. It is important that employees and tenants know the property rules and regulations as they relate to holiday fire safety for your organization.

Candle Fire Safety More than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles, according to the NFPA. You can protect your home and business by prohibiting open flame candles; swap these out for battery operated candles. This also eliminates potential burns from hot wax.

When open-flame candles must be used, follow these safety tips:

  • Candles should be blown out when you leave the room or go to bed

  • Avoid using candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep

  • Children should never be left alone in a room with a burning candle or any open flame

  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from decorations and anything that can burn

  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame

  • Only use candle holders that are sturdy and difficult to tip over

  • Candle holders should only be placed on a surface that is sturdy and orderly

  • Don't burn a candle all the way down. Candles should be put out before it gets too close to the holder

  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home or building

Turkey Fryer Safety Turkey fryers have become a new source for holiday fires. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 216 fire or scald/burn incidents involving turkey fryers that occurred in the last two decades (between 1998 and 2018), resulting in more than $9.7 million in property loss. Seek out professionals to fry your turkey or utilize a new oil-less fryer. Should you wish to fry your own turkey, follow these best practices:

  • Always ensure your turkey is thawed and dry

  • Set the fryer up at least 10 feet from the building on level ground

  • Keep hand protection available as the lid and handle often become too hot to handle

  • Keep a fire extinguisher present

Christmas Tree Fire Prevention Christmas trees are often a great source of fun and memories; especially fresh trees. Use the following best practices to maintain Christmas tree safety:

  • Keep trees at least three feet from heat sources (fireplaces, radiators, etc.)

  • Only use lights tested by a qualified testing laboratory and designed specifically for indoor or outdoor use depending on your application

  • Always turn off the lights when you leave for the day or place them on a timer

  • Keep your tree watered, topping off the reservoir daily

  • Never use lit candles as tree decorations

According to the NFPA, one of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Check out this video to see just how quickly a dried out Christmas tree can burn:

Other Safety Considerations Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested to ensure they are working properly and emergency exits should be kept clear, especially in advance of special events where more people may be frequenting the business. Heating equipment should be inspected for proper operation and special care should be taken to ensure combustible items and decorations are not placed too close.

Additional Fire Safety Resources PHLY agents and policyholders can access additional risk reduction information, including a technical bulletin on Winter Holiday Fire Safety, by logging into your MyPHLY account and selecting Risk Management Services.

The NFPA also has some helpful resources:


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