Agencies share tips to stay safe during the cold, holiday season

FILE PHOTO: Firefighters work to vent smoke from a home on the 24200 block of Arch Street in Newhall on Dec. 1, 2017. Austin Dave/The Signal

With added electrical hazards and holiday decorations, December is one of the leading months for home fires in the United States.

To avoid home fires, electrical fires, electrical shocks, injuries or death, local agencies are sharing tips and tricks to keep homeowners safe during this winter season.

“By knowing where potential fire hazards exist and taking the needed steps to prevent them, people can enjoy the season’s celebrations and traditions while keeping their families, guests and homes safe,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of NFPA’s Outreach and Advocacy division in a statement.


The peak times for candle fires are on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

In total, 55 percent of December decoration fires were sparked from candles and one-third of home candle fires start in the bedroom.

To keep homes safe, NFPA recommends that residents never leave candles unattended or by flammable items, and opt for battery-powered candles when possible.


Overloaded outlets, forgotten Christmas trees and decorations also contributed to an increase of home fires and dangers during the holiday season.

Christmas trees pose a surprising danger for homeowners, as one in every 32 Christmas tree fires result in death, according to NFPA.

Holiday decorations can also be a threat as they cause an average of 840 home fires per year and result in $11.4 million in direct property damage.

To avoid these fires, officials recommend turning off all lights before leaving homes unattended, disposing of Christmas trees when they are dry and avoiding plugging too many appliances or decorations into a single outlet or extension cord.


During the winter months, residents may turn to electrical blankets, generators or space heaters to keep warm; however, if used incorrectly, these items can create dangers for those who use them.

According to the Electrical Fire Safety Foundation International, electrical blankets and heating pads cause almost 500 fires each year.

To avoid these fires, Southern California Edison recommends that residents never fold electric blankets or tuck them beneath other blankets as they could overheat and start a fire.

The organization also recommends that residents inspect the cords and lock for cracks or frays.

Space Heaters must also be watched carefully because, those that are placed too close to upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding, account for nearly 53 percent of home fires, according to NFPA.

To keep homes safe, Southern California Edison recommends that residents keep space heaters three feet away from anything that’s flammable like rugs or blankets, do not leave space heaters unattended and unplug the devices when they are not in use.

Residents should consult an electrician before they install a generator in their homes to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, electrocution and fire.

Officials warn that homeowners should never try to power their house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet, as it creates a serious danger for those involved.

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