For Immediate Release: December 19, 2013
State Fire Marshal: Celebrate Safely this Holiday Season
RALEIGH -- During this year's holiday season, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin is reminding North Carolina families to prevent fires and injuries by taking a few simple steps when decorating, cooking, entertaining and heating their homes.
"It is so easy to get caught up in holiday preparations that we sometimes forget to exercise caution," said Goodwin. "By taking some simple precautions, families can keep their homes and families safe during the holidays and throughout the year."
"Prevention is the first step in protecting our families from fire," said Goodwin. "Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home injuries. If we always remember to be attentive and alert when cooking, we can help prevent tragedies from occurring."Holiday Trees
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Place your tree in a stand filled with water and add water daily.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, heat vents, candles and lights, and make sure it isn't blocking any exits. If you are using an artificial tree, make sure that it is flame-retardant.
- Use only lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory on them.
- Make sure to select the correct lights for the area, as some lights are intended only for indoor or some only for outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights that has worn or broken cords, or loose bulbs connections.
- Turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Light candles carefully and keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, including decorations, blinds and curtains.
- Whether using one candle or more than one in a candelabra, kinara, or menorah, make sure that the candle holder is sturdy and always place it where it cannot be knocked over.
- Keep candles out of reach of children and pets, and never leave a child alone in a room with burning candles. Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children's reach.
- Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires, and most cooking fires involve the stovetop. Create a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and drink are prepared or carried.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling, check the food regularly and remain in the home while food is cooking. Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep a lid nearby when you are cooking to smother small grease fires. Slide the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop carefully. Leave the pan covered until it is cooled and never try to pick up or carry a hot or burned pan. Never put water on a grease fire.
- For an oven or microwave fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
- Establish a three-foot "kid-free" zone around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use an oven to heat your home.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Ensure that a working smoke alarm is installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Smoke alarms give everyone in the home an early warning and an opportunity to escape a fire quickly.