SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — From Christmas trees to deep-fried turkeys, some of our favorite holiday traditions come with a risk.
To prevent fires from ruining your holiday fun, experts say preparation is the key.
“I’ve been to so many tragedies where a little bit of thought and preparation would have made all the difference in the world,” says Lt. Daniel Byrne of the Burton Fire Department.
Your lights might look great as a decoration, but the plugs they get their power from can be a hazard.
“If there’s only supposed to be two plugs in there, just put two plugs in there,” Lt. Byrne says.
Instead, use an approved power strip for those extra lights, and no more than three strands plugged in at the same time.
“Extension cords are not designed to be permanent wiring, so when you are running that type of power for that long of a time, those cords heat up break down and cause fires,” he says.
Make sure your cords aren’t damaged, and if they are, don’t use duct tape to cover up any of those frays or cuts. Even cleaning your power strips is an important step to take.
“A lot of times they will sit behind furniture for a long time,” Lt. Byrne says. “They collect dust — dust is flammable. When it heats up it could ignite and we could have a fire.”
Experts warn against another mistake — don’t think you are smarter than your circuit breaker.
“If a circuit breaker trips, reset it one more time. If it pops again, you have a problem with the wiring,” says Lt. Byrne. “Don’t tape circuit breakers open, don’t keep playing the game of resetting it every time. Your home is trying to communicate there is a problem.”
Remember: your Christmas trees can catch fire easily, especially if they are not watered regularly. A dry tree can go up like firewood.
To prevent any flames, do not put more than three strands of lights on the tree.
“Watch those Christmas wrappings, those are combustible as well,” Lt. Byrne warns. “So everything that you put under that Christmas tree can burn, and the more you have the bigger the fire.”
Firefighters recommend putting a temporary smoke detector above the tree. It may give you valuable seconds in case of a fire to get out.
A few more fire safety tips:
- Don’t cover exits with any of your holiday decorations. That can block an exit if fire strikes.
- Close your bedroom doors when you go to sleep. It can help give you an extra few seconds away from smoke.
- Know your escape routes. Have a fire ladder ready.
- Make sure you have an in-date extinguisher nearby. They expire every 5 years.
As for frying up that Thanksgiving turkey, make sure its thawed before it hits the oil.
“Make sure you do your turkey frying outside in the yard, not in the garage not under an overhang,” Lt. Byrne says.
When it comes to food on the stove, Burton firefighters held a hands-on demonstration of what can happen when you walk away.
“Fire can double in size from 18-30 seconds,” Lt. Byrne explains. “So a small kitchen fire, if not handled the way we showed today, could quickly engulf a room.”
And if you try to throw water on that grease fire, the problem may only get worse. That’s why it’s important to know where your fire extinguisher is, and where your cooking oil shouldn’t be.
“Take the cooking oil from above cabinets — put it below cabinets,” says Lt. Byrne. This prevents it from hitting other grease and cooking oil.
Lt. Byrne also recommends mounting your fire extinguisher near an exit.
“You will see the fire extinguisher and that puts your mental Rolodex on and says ‘oh fire extinguisher that’s how to put the fire out,'” he explains.
And don’t be afraid to call for help.
“The leading causes of burns injuries that we have seen, people will grab the frying pan and attempt to go out the door,” said Byrne. “And while you are doing it the cooking oil is sloshing around, the fire is growing. As you are moving in this direction the fire is coming back, they panic, they drop the frying pan and set the rest of the house on fire.”
If you want help installing a smoke alarm, or checking your fire extinguisher and live in the Burton Fire district, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also call your local fire department to see if they will help with service as well.