Tis the season of devastating, but preventable holiday home fires.
They are the most humbug of holiday statistics, numbers not even Scrooge, the Grinch or Hans Gruber would enjoy. The American Red Cross estimates 47,000 holiday home fires will claim 500 lives, cause 2,200 injuries and cost $500 million in property damage this season.
Nothing kills the Christmas spirit like your family’s home going up in smoke.
“I was a Maryland firefighter for 10 years, and we often called December to February ‘Fire Season,’” List with Clever’s Daniel Goldstein writes. “… I once saw a house burn down after someone tossed a bag of burned popcorn on a wooden deck at a family holiday gathering.”
The most common culprits of holiday home fires are frustratingly avoidable:
- Home Cooking Accidents
- Christmas Tree Fires
- Candle Fires
- Space Heater Accidents
“Many times, it’s a preventable accident that caused this,” said Minnesota Fire Marshal Jim Smith, whose state had already lost 37 people to house fires through November 22.
The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) notes Americans’ holiday activities significantly increase fire risks. The Red Cross notes cooking fires are four times as likely to occur during the holiday season thanks to inattentive cooking. The NFPA notes deep fryer fires alone will cause an estimated $15 million in property damage this season. Christmas tree fires, which can engulf a dry tree in 10 seconds, will lead to a dozen deaths and injuries, plus $10 million in property damage.
Again, the sad truth of all this holiday damage, loss and pain that in most cases it can be prevented.
The reassuring news: you can prevent holiday fires by taking simple fire prevention measures.
- Buy an artificial Christmas tree. Otherwise, keep your live Christmas tree watered and away from heat sources.
- Keep Christmas decorations at least three feet from fireplaces, vents, candles, space heaters and other heat sources.
- Make sure string lights and other potential fire hazards are in good working order.
- Unplug your Christmas trees and lights before going to bed.
- Keep flammable objects away from your stovetop when cooking.
“Look around your home this holiday season, and ensure you’re covering all the fire safety basics,” Goldstein stresses.