Fire safety urged during holidays, cold weather

Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 8:19 PM
Last updated Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 12:27 AM
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In the twinkle of a decorative light, a Thanksgiving feast or Christmas tree can go up in flames.

Experts are reminding people about ways to stay safe and prevent disasters during the holiday season. An estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires occur in residential buildings annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

“We are getting into that time of year when fires are a real danger,” said Pam Tucker, Columbia County’s emergency management director. “It only takes two seconds and your whole life is changed.”

A space heater was the cause of a house fire that killed 92-year-old Carl Glymph on Oct. 27. Fire department officials said Glymph was wrapped in a blanket and sitting next to a space heater when the blanket caught fire.

Pay close attention to open sources of heat, including candles and space heaters, Tucker said. The kitchen is a common cause of danger, especially grease fires that can spread extremely quickly and cause severe burns.

Staying safe doesn’t mean ditching the holiday cheer, Tucker said.

Battery-operated, flameless candles and nonflammable decorations are safe alternatives that decrease the risk of fire.

STAY SAFE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

When cooking:

• Never leave food unattended.

• Keep a lid nearby to smother small fires in pans.

• Exercise caution with oil-based turkey fryers.

• Don’t wear loose sleeves.

• Keep children away from the stove.

For the holidays:

• Pick a fresh Christmas tree and water it frequently.

• Keep trees away from heat sources.

• Check holiday lights for frayed wires and other damage.

• Never link more than three light strands together.

• Use nonflammable holiday decorations and battery-operated flameless candles.

With space heaters:

• Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface.

• Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes and furniture.

• Keep children and pets away.

• Turn heater off when you leave area or go to sleep.


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