So many winter holiday celebrations include candles, and there are more candle fires around the holidays. Christmas Day has the second most residential candle fires of any day during the year.
Candle safety tips:
- Burn candles within a one foot circle, free of anything that can burn.
- Before you leave a room or the house, blow out candles. Never leave candles burning unattended.
- Always extinguish candles after use.
- Use a non-combustible saucer or candle holder.
- Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
To be safe, consider using flameless candles. Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage instead of candles.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Smoke alarms are your first line of defense in a fire providing early warning of danger so you can use your home escape plan to get out fast. Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and within 10-feet of every bedroom.
Every home is required to have working smoke alarms and most are also required to have carbon monoxide alarms.
- Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside bedrooms, at the top of open stairs and at the base of cellar stairs.
- Maintain smoke alarms. Test them once a month.
- If the alarm uses regular batteries, change them at least once a year. An easy way to remember is to change the batteries when you change your clocks. A “chirping” sound indicates that it’s time to change the batteries.
- Smoke alarms must be replaced every 10 years. Alarms are labeled with their date of manufacture. If there is no label, they are older than 10 years and must be replaced.
Cooking Fire Safety
Cooking is the number one cause of fires in the home and the leading cause of fire related injuries. It is also the leading cause of fire injuries for seniors. Learn about preventing cooking fires and about preventing burns and scalds.
- Cover a pan or grease fire with a lid and turn off the heat. Baking soda also works.
- Don't move a burning pan.
- Don't use water or a fire extinguisher on a grease fire.
- Stand by your pan. Don't leave food, grease or oils cooking on the stove top unattended.
- Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
- Keep pot handles turned inward to prevent spills.
- Create a three-foot child-free zone around the stove. Keep pets away.
- Keep combustible items like pot holders, towels, and paper or plastic bags away from burners.
- Don’t put metal in a microwave. Utensils, aluminum foil or twist-tie wraps can cause a fire.
- Use caution with microwaved food and liquid as they can become very hot.
- Unplug appliances like toasters and coffee makers when not in use.
- Don’t use the oven for storage.
If a fire begins:
- If your clothing catches fire, STOP, DROP & ROLL to put out the flames. Put burns in cool running water for 10-15 minutes. Call 9-1-1 for help.
- For fires inside an oven or microwave, keep the door closed, turn off the appliance, and call the fire department.
Electrical Fire Safety
- Do not overload outlets.
- Plug heat generating appliances directly into an outlet, not into a power strip or extension cord.
- Don't put electrical cords underneath rugs or pinched behind furniture
- Charge laptops and phones only on hard surfaces, not on beds or sofas.
- Have a licensed electrician review your home’s electrical system every ten years. Small upgrades and safety checks can prevent larger problems.
- Consider installing tamper resistant (TR) outlets in homes with small children.
Smoking Fire Safety
The improper use and disposal of smoking materials (of all kinds) is the leading cause of fire deaths in Massachusetts. Smoking fires can smolder undetected for a long time before bursting into flames whether it is on a bed, in a sofa, or a pile of mulch. Be a responsible smoker and put out smoking materials completely and safely. Every time.
Winter Home Heating Safety
Heating is a leading cause of home fires in Massachusetts. Use your home heating system and space heating appliances responsibly to keep warm and keep safe.
Essential fire safety tips:
- Make sure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside each bedroom.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly and change batteries twice a year when you change the clocks.
- Create a home escape plan and hold home fire drills to practice the plan.
- Practice home fire safety and set a good example for children.
Home Escape Plan
When the smoke alarm sounds you may have as little as 3 minutes to escape. Make and practice your home escape plan with the whole family so you'll know what to do in an emergency.
Why you need a home escape plan:
- Working smoke alarms and a home fire escape plan can reduce your risk of injury or death in a fire.
- Most fatal fires happen in homes.
- When fire strikes you may have less than one minute to get out of the building.
- Fires double in size every minute.
- Fires create thick, black, choking smoke which makes it impossible to see or breathe.
- Fires produce heat, smoke and toxic gases.
Space Heater Safety
Space heaters help to keep us warm in winter, but space heaters can also cause deadly fires.
- Keep space heaters three feet away from drapes, furniture or other things that can burn.
- Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Do not use an extension cord, even a heavy-duty one with a power rating at least as high as that of the heater itself.
- Turn off a space heater when you leave the room or when you go to bed. Never leave a space heater unattended or running while you sleep.
- Put heaters on a level surface away from places where someone might bump into it and knock it over.
- Supervise children and pets near space heaters.
- Buy heaters that are tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company such as Underwriter’s Laboratories Inc. (UL).
- Keep electric heaters away from water. Never use them near a sink or in the bathroom.
- Never use an unvented kerosene heater. It is illegal to sell or use them in Massachusetts.