According to an independent survey commissioned by Shriners Hospitals for Children®, many do not follow key fire and burn safety tips during the holiday season, which can be the most dangerous time of year.
The national survey, conducted as part of the Shriners Hospitals for Children annual Be Burn Aware campaign, polled adults across the nation on their fire safety knowledge and practices. Although overall awareness was high, the survey revealed several gaps in action. The largest gap was associated with live Christmas trees, one of the most dangerous fire hazards in homes during this time of year. More than half of those surveyed said they do not water trees daily, even though nearly three-quarters of respondents were aware of the life-saving practice.*
Candle and cooking accidents account for a large portion of house fires and injuries, but the study revealed Americans are not taking simple steps to keep their homes safe. One-quarter of Americans surveyed said they leave lit candles unattended, and slightly more leave them in reach of children. The survey also found that two of the simplest prevention tips are often not followed in the kitchen – turning pot handles to the back of the stove and keeping a cookie sheet nearby to extinguish a fire.
The survey results also show:
· 25 percent leave lit candles unattended in their homes.
· 27 percent leave lit candles within the reach of children.
· 47 percent do not keep a lid or cookie sheet nearby when cooking to extinguish a fire.
· 25 percent do not turn pot handles to the back of the stove and out of children’s reach.
“Some of these findings seem alarming but each year our burn hospitals see the results – children who’ve been injured in cooking related accidents or in fires associated with decorations or candles,” said Kenneth Guidera, M.D., chief medical officer at Shriners Hospitals for Children. “These injuries can mean years of ongoing treatments to a child’s growing skin and extensive rehabilitation.”
To help reduce fires and burns, Shriners Hospitals for Children is spreading important prevention messages through its Be Burn Aware campaign. Public service announcements, featuring actor Joe Minoso from the NBC hit show Chicago Fire, urge families to take precautions like watering live Christmas trees daily to reduce fire risks.
Follow these tips:
Tip #1: Take Extreme Caution When Cooking…
The undeniable fact is that people simply aren’t careful enough when it comes to cooking. This is the number one cause of home fires. Period.
One of the biggest dangers is the combination of hot splashing grease and unattended cooking. Hot grease can instantly burst into flames. So it’s vital that you’re always there to watch and make sure that grease does not splash.
Of course keeping flammable dish towels, paper towels, or pot holders next to an open flame is a recipe for disaster. Keep all of those clear from the stove.
Last but not least, make sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand, ready to go at any moment in the kitchen, to immediately put out any fires. (Hint: This can also perhaps help you earn a discount on your home insurance).
Tip #2: Keep Your Heating Equipment in Good Condition…
Many fires start each and every year due to heating equipment that hasn’t been maintained. You should have your home heating utilities inspected and cleaned annually. Just as well, fireplace and chimney cleaning should be part of your annual budget. (Hint: Let your home insurance carrier know that this is part of your annual schedule and ask for a discount because of that)…
Portable heaters are also a great danger when not used properly. Keep these heaters at least 3 feet away from anything flammable, such as curtains, bed sheets, and never dry clothes on them. Always unplug portable heaters when you leave the home.
Tip #3: Smoking in the Home Is a Fire Waiting to Happen…
Smoking is a huge and obvious fire hazard, yet so many people carry on smoking in the home.
The easiest way to prevent a fire from cigarettes is to not ever smoke in the home. Period. However if you insist on still smoking in the home, be sure never to smoke in bed. Most cigarette fires are started with people falling asleep with their cigarette lit.
Using deep ashtrays is highly recommended. Never use flammable items such as paper plates, bowls, or cups as an ashtray. And remember that a cigarette butt can burn and smolder for hours after you think it’s been extinguished.
Tip #4: Electrical Fires Hide Around Every Corner…
Electrical equipment makes our life easier in so many ways, but can also cause grave danger when it comes to fire safety.
It’s important that you keep a close eye on your electrical equipment. Never use faulty equipment. Always watch for frayed or torn cords and wires. Never run a cord under furniture or rugs. Wires get hot. The insulation on wires can also tear in places that you can’t see, and cause a fire when up against flammable material.
Also any electrical job in your home, should be done by a professional. Do-it-yourself electrical jobs very often go bad, simply because they’re not performed completely properly. This is no time to take a shortcut or save money.
Tip #5: Candles Can Lead to Disaster…
The candle market is huge. It’s a $2 Billion dollar industry. While we love the way candles look and smell, especially during the holidays, the fact is that candles can be extremely dangerous. In essence, they’re voluntary open flames left around your home. This can lead to disaster in many ways.
The most common cause of candle fires is because they’re placed too close to flammable material such as curtains, table cloths, etc. Other ways that candle fires can easily start are from kids or pets knocking over candles that have been placed too low. It’s important that you use a sturdy candle holder that’s in no way flammable. Candles melt and the flame can very easily and quickly end up on a flammable source. Do a thorough walk through your home whenever candles are lit, and make sure all have been extinguished.
Tip #6: Curious Children and Fires Do Not Mix…
Children are curious by fire. They may want to see what happens when something melts or becomes ablaze or are intrigued by how things melt. But obviously that’s extremely dangerous and a huge hazard to the entire home.
The first step is to explain in great detail the full dangers of fire. This is the time that you want to scare you children a bit. You also want to be diligent about keeping any source of fire out of their reach. If you find anything like matches, lighters, or even notice burnt or melted toys in their room or play area, immediately take action. In this case it’s better to assume that they’re likely playing with fire and strongly re-iterate the dangers.
Tip #7: The Fire Dangers Behind Your Walls…
We spoke about electrical equipment in the home, but the electricity that powers those appliances runs through wiring in your home, which can cause fires.
If your electricity frequently shuts off, or trips fuses or breakers then that’s telling you that you have a problem. Faulty outlets and bad or old wiring can be dangerous.
Never try to be an electrician in the home if you’re not one. Let a professional handle the electrical work in every situation. This decision could save your life, your family’s life, as well as your home and all of your possessions in the home.
Bonus Tip: Keep smoke alarms in every room of your home, and frequently (do it now) check the batteries, and make sure that all are in working order.