According to the United States Fire Administration, cooking is the top cause of holiday fires. The most common culprit is food that is left unattended. Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that is rated for all types of fires and check that smoke detectors are working. If you are planning to deep fry a holiday turkey, do it outside on a flat level surface at least 10 feet from the house.
The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover them with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.
To minimize risk, buy a fresh Christmas tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources such as a fireplace or radiator and out of foot traffic patterns. If you are using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources. Most real trees start to dry out after about four weeks. Artificial trees do not pose much of a fire hazard; make sure yours is flame-retardant.
Inspect light strings and discard any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, do not run more than three strings of lights end to end. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters do not trip. If they trip repeatedly, they need to be replaced. When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers.
The number of fires and, tragically, the number of deaths caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire and in December, that percentage doubles. Keep matches and lighters out of kids’ reach.
Soot can harden on fireplace chimney walls as flammable creosote, so check to see if your chimney needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood, do not burn wrapping paper.
When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.
The Township Committee and our Fire Department want everyone to have a safe holiday!
** Visit Santa at the Voorhees Town Center through Christmas Eve. Masks will be required and social distancing will be observed. Reservations to visit Santa are strongly encouraged. Walk-up visits will be available as space allows throughout the day. Pet visits will not be available this year. For more information, visit whereissanta.com/newjersey/voorheestowncenter.