This holiday season, the City of Stamford wants residents to be aware of fire safety.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the winter months are the peak times for home candle and heating fires. Many homeowners may be lighting a fireplace or decorating their houses with a trimmed tree or a lit menorah.
The NFPA says almost half of all home decoration fires are started by candles and 38% of house fires start in fireplaces or chimneys.
The city's office of public safety health and welfare is advising residents to choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant and keep them away from candles or any other heat source. Also, use clips instead of nails to hang lights so the cords don't get tangled and don't overload electrical extension cords.
If you have an artificial tree, be sure it’s labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant. If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched; before placing it in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to water it daily. Make sure your tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least three feet away from any heat source. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree and always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
Consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles. If using candles they should be in sturdy holder and placed on an uncluttered surface at least 12” away from anything that can burn. Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire. Never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle and never leave a lit candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a professional. Never leave a fireplace unattended. Make sure that your fireplace has a sturdy screen and keep kids and combustibles at least three feet away. Allow fireplace ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container using metal fireplace tools and keep the ash container outside, at least 10 feet away from your home, other nearby buildings and from any combustible material. Douse and saturate the ashes with water. Never dispose of ash using paper or plastic bags, plastic containers, cardboard boxes or a trash can.
When cooking, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on the stove. Keep a lid nearby to smother small grease fires. Slide the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Never throw water on a grease fire. If you have a cooking fire, alert everyone and get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire and call 911 immediately.
Lastly, make sure that you have properly installed and maintained smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the home. Properly installed and maintained smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are the only thing in the home that can alert individuals and families of fire and carbon monoxide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
By recognizing holiday fire hazards and using a little extra caution, you can help keep your loved ones safe from fire this season and your home full of comfort and joy.