10 Ways to Prevent Home Fires as You Deck the Halls this Holiday Season

Prevent home fires through holiday decorating safely

We want you to stay safe from home fires—the nation’s most frequent disaster—by testing your smoke alarms (English, Spanish) and practicing your home fire escape plan. In addition, we have these 10 simple safety tips as you put up lights and ornaments:

  1. Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord.
  2. If you’re buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
  3. If you’re getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  4. If you’re using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
  5. When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If you’re using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
  6. If you’re using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
  7. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  8. Remember to turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
  9. Keep children, pets and decorations away from candles.
  10. If you’re hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.

Holiday safety in Minne-snow-ta

In Minnesota, the holiday season requires us to be extra cautious. While holiday cooking and decorations increase risks of fire and injury, the winter weather conditions create additional hazards on the roads. For example, every year across the country there are on average more than 150,000* crashes due to icy roads. With the spirit of safety first, we offer below some helpful tips for a fabulous and fun holiday season.

Roads

1. Keep a windshield scraper and emergency kit including food and warm clothing in your vehicle.

2. Test your car battery. As temperature drops, battery power drops as well.

3. Allow extra time to drive to your destination. Not only will there be more traffic than usual, but it is safest to drive more slowly on snowy roads.

4. Practice braking on icy roads in an empty parking lot.

5. Check tire pressure and tread life. Consider installing winter tires.

Homes

1. Check all smoke alarms to verify that there is a working smoke alarm on each level of the home. Review your home fire escape plan.

2. Turn off decorative lights and blow out candles before leaving the house or going to sleep.

3. Remain in the kitchen while something is cooking.

4. Wash hands and cook food to safe minimum standards to avoid food poisoning.

5. Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from hot ovens and stove tops.

For immediate access to weather updates and information on treating common first aid emergencies, download the American Red Cross Emergency App for free.

*Source: NHTSA and Federal Highway Administration