Experts say: “Put a freeze on winter fires”


Home fires can happen any time of the year, but there are special risks over the holidays. Two very common activities that are popular at the holidays are often the source of fires: Holiday decorating and holiday cooking. For example, the top three days of the year for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve. The National Fire Protection Association and the United States Fire Administration urge people to Put a freeze on winter fires. In this post, we focus on holiday fore prevention. We’ve included a video and infographic from the “Put a freeze…” campaign, as well as holiday decorating tips that they suggest.

Decorating for the holidays

  • Only use decorations that are flame-retardant or not flammable.
  • Check holiday lights each year for frayed wires or excessive wear.
  • Don’t link more than three strands of holiday lights.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.

Christmas tree safety

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going
  • Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry.
  • Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.
  • Check with your local community to find a recycling program.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, May 5, 2018


wildfire preparation day graphic

In many parts of the US, wildfires are a constant threat. Wildfires destroy homes and property, injure and kill people and animals, and disrupt lives. We New Englanders tend to think of wildfires as only happening in the west, but that is not true. While less frequent and less damaging, there are indeed wildfires in New England. There are still some old-timers who remember a devastating Maine fire 70 years ago that destroyed towns and burned about a quarter of a million acres. People literally ran into the ocean to escape the flames.  New England’s severe drought a few year’s ago was a prime condition for wildfires.

May 5, the first Saturday in May, is Wildfire Community Preparation Day. Wherever you live, it’s a great opportunity to pitch in and help your community prepare for wildfires and a good reminder to look over your family’s own fire-preparedness plan.

So get the word out May 5: being properly prepared for wildfires is your best defense.

Preparation against wildfires is a matter of taking a few simple steps:

  • Get the most out of your smartphone. Get community weather alerts. Install the FEMA app or sign up for the Emergency Alert System.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Radio also provides emergency alerts.
  • Know your evacuation route, and have a plan B. And even a plan C. You don’t always know which exit will be passable. Make plans for your pets and livestock, too.Have your bug-out bag packed. Keep a number of N95 respirator masks handy. These sub-$20 face masks will alleviate the threat from inhaled ash, grit, and other particulates.
  • Store your important documents in a fire-proof safe, and have password-protected back-ups of your data.
  • Make sure the hose will reach. You want to be able to soak every inch of your property with it.
  • Build with fire-resistant materials. Know the properties of the materials you’re using to build, renovate, and repair your home and outbuildings.
  • Make a firebreak. Keep flammable material such as leaves, firewood, and debris at least thirty feet away from your home.
  • Keep your insurance coverage up to date. If you’ve made renovations or additions to your property, let your insurance agent know. Go over all your insurance coverages with your agent once a year to make sure they’re up-to-date and suites to your current needs.

Fire safety works best when everyone collaborates. Get together with your friends and family on May 5 and make your community safer from wildfires.

Sound the Alarm Campaign needs volunteers!


Here’s a great way you can help your community: Partner with the Red Cross to help stamp out house fires. From April 28 through May 12, the Red Cross is organizing a push to install smoke alarms in high-risk neighborhoods as part of their annual Sound the Alarm Campaign.

The Sound the Alarm Campaign works in conjunction with community organizations and local fire departments to install free smoke detectors in homes and apartments at no cost to residents.

The vast majority of crises to which the Red Cross responds are not natural disasters like earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, or floods – they’re home fires. Every day, home fires in the US take lives, destroy property, and displace families. That’s why the Red Cross has set a goal to reduce home fires by 25%, and they need your help. They are looking for 35,000 volunteers across the nation to help install alarms.

You can get involved by signing up at to volunteer at the Home Fire Campaign.

  • Donate your time to help install alarms or batteries, or to canvas at-risk neighborhoods.
  • Donate a few dollars to help reduce the threat of home fires in high-risk communities.
  • Attend a fire safety event to learn how to mitigate your risks.
  • If you’re an educator, devote some classroom time to fire safety techniques.
  • See events by date & by state. (PDF)

While you’re at it, take a moment to test your own smoke alarms. Maybe they need fresh batteries! It takes just a minute to keep your family, your pets, and your property protected from the threat of a house fire. Here are more home fire prevention tips.

 

Candle with Care this holiday season


nfpa-candle-safetyFor many of us, candles are a big part of seasonal celebrations. They’re sometimes used for decorations and sometimes as a part of religious rites. The beautiful glow of candles can make any dinner or event seem festive, nostalgic, and special.

BUT — and there is a very big but — 12% of home candle fires occur in December, 1.5 times the monthly average of 8%, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Here are some other facts from the NFPA report about candle fires:

  • The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.
  • More than half (56%) of the home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was too close to the candle. Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Roughly one-third of home candle fires started in the bedroom. Falling asleep was a factor in 11% percent of the home candle fires and 37% of the associated deaths. Extinguish all candles before going to sleep.
  • Unattended equipment or abandoned materials or products were contributing factors in almost one of every five (18%) home candle fires. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave a room.
  • Four percent were started by people (typically children) playing with the candle. Keep candles up high out of the reach of children. Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle. A child should not sleep in a room with a lit candle.
  • Two percent started when the candle was bumped into or knocked over. Make sure candles are placed on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that won’t tip over. Place candles away from spots where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
  • An improper container or storage was a factor in another 2% of the fires. Candles should fit in the holders securely and holders should be made from material that can’t burn.

View this short clip about candle safety and share with your loved ones.

Thanksgiving-palooza: Recipes, Safety Tips, Humor & More


We thought that we’d make a Thanksgiving post that is just like the way we like our meal: a little of this, a little of that and topped off with some sweets.

One of the pre-dinner traditions for many is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Check out this cool gallery of old-time photos from the early days of the parade – there’s also some fascinating historical info:

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924, though then it was called the Christmas Parade. In its earliest years, entertainment came in the form of animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. The first float, Felix the Cat, appeared three years later in 1927. At that point, after the parade was done, officials would just release the tethers and let the balloons float away; there was a $100 prize awarded to anyone who could find and return one to Macy’s. That event was discontinued in 1933 after a guy crashed his plane trying to secure a runaway balloon.

Image: Macy's Inc.

Image: Macy’s Inc.

For the cooks, Yankee Magazine offers a Turkey FAQ: A Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet, along with a Thanksgiving Timeline – starting 3-days before your dinner right up until serving time. They also offer 25 Thanksgiving tips.

For some unique recipes, The New York Times weighs in with the United States of Thanksgiving, a collection of recipes that evoke each of the 50 states (and D.C. and Puerto Rico).  For a more traditional take, we turn to Yankee’s No-Fuss Thanksgiving Menu – replete with recipes for Roast Turkey with Cornbread-and-Sausage Stuffing, Giblet Gravy, Creamed Onions, Herbed Mashed Potatoes, Maple Walnut Acorn Squash, Easiest Brussels Sprouts and Julie Sahni’s Cranberry Chutney. Or try traditional recipes with a twist. And for the day after, here are some great Thanksgiving Leftover recipes

The one thing you don’t want on the menu is a kitchen fire – Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires involving cooking – three times the average number. Review some kitchen safety tips from the National Fire Prevention Association. And if you are considering fried turkey, be sure to see our last year’s post of advice from William Shatner.

We advise avoiding the emergency room altogether. It’s a busy place on Thanksgiving – besides burns, frequent injuries are cuts from carving, sports injuries, food contamination, overeating and over-drinking, family disputes that lead to physical altercations. It’s always best to avoid post-Thanksgiving food poisoning.

OK, we’ll leave you with a few Thanksgiving-related amusements. Have a safe & wonderful holiday!