The holiday season is a time for family, celebrating and decorating your home. The Voorhees Township Fire Department reminds us that this is the most dangerous time of the year for household fires. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve. Certain precautions can be taken to keep our families safe.
According to the United States Fire Administration, cooking is the top cause of holiday fires. When deep frying a turkey, keep the fryer away from structures and trees, make sure your turkey is fully thawed, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your fryer and do it outside on a flat level surface and at least 10 feet from the house.
The most common cause of cooking fires is food that is left unattended. It is easy to get distracted with family celebrations and entertainment demands; take a potholder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that is rated for all types of fires and check that smoke detectors are working.
The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. Half of December home decoration fires were started by candles. The risk of candle fires is so common that nearly one-third of us have left the room or fallen asleep while burning them, according to a 2020 national Red Cross survey. 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 and place them out of reach of children and pets. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles. In addition, do not light the fireplace if hanging stockings on the mantel.
If your family prefers real trees, make sure the tree is fresh and be sure to water it daily because dry needles and wood catch fire more easily. Use many strings of lights but do not plug more than 3 strings into each other (opt for a power strip instead). Discard light strings that are worn or broken. Always unplug the lights before leaving the house or going to sleep. Keep the tree away from heat sources such as a fireplace or radiator and out of foot traffic patterns. If 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. Look for the fire-resistant label when buying an artificial tree. Keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
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.
The Township Committee and our Fire Department want everyone to have a safe holiday season!
**The Hope Church Santa Arrival and Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Saturday, November 27, from 6-7p.m. There will be live music, hot chocolate and cider, crafts for kids, and even a visit from Santa! Visit meethope.org for more info. Everyone is invited to kick off the holiday season together! HOPE Church is located at 700 Cooper Rd in Voorhees.