HOT TIPS FOR THE WINTER HOLIDAYS
"Tis the season to be merry...not marred.
Holidays, with all their beautiful trimmings, also bring additional fire safety rules to follow.Here is some advice to help prevent tragedy in your home.
Artificial or real? It's a matter of preference. Both can be safe if rules are observed.
- Always buy a fresh tree. Look for a deep-green color, strong natural scent, and needles firm on the limbs. The trunk butt should be cut at an angle and sticky with sap.
- Secure tree firmly in its stand.
- Do not rely on chemical coatings or spray to make a live tree flame-resistant.
- Keep the tree fresh by continual immersion in water (as with fresh flowers). Since trees can dry out quickly in heated rooms, check tree container daily for adequate water. Dispose of tree when needles begin falling off in large quantities, a sign of a very dry - and very flammable- tree. Do not burn the tree; dispose through refuse collection.
- Despite labeling, plastic trees do burn vigorously.
- Do not use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty wiring. Instead, use colored spotlights above or beside the tree.
- Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations when going to bed or leaving the area. A short circuit could result in a fire.
- Do not use an open heat source (such as candles) on a tree. Avoid placing the tree too close to heat sources, such as fireplaces and space heaters.
- Maintain a clear exit route when setting up a tree and other decorations. Don't allow a temporary rearrangement of furnishings to block an exit.
- Both indoor and outdoor light sets should have been tested for safety and, thus, bear the "UL" label (Underwriter's Laboratories).
- Check lights for damage, such as exposed wires, loose prongs, and cracked or broken sockets before placing on the tree. Either repair before using, or discard.
- Use indoor lights inside; outdoor lights outdoors. Outdoor lights should be fastened securely to trees or buildings to prevent damage by wind.
- Avoid overloading extension cords or light strings. There should be no more then three sets of lights on an extension cord. Do not connect large light sets through miniature light sets.
- Disconnect lights by grasping the plug, not pulling on the cord.
- Before decorating with lights, sets should be checked for smoking and melting by placing on a non-flammable surface and plugging in for 10 to 15 minutes. Careful packing and unpacking will avoid damage to lights and wiring.
- Indoor lights should be securely attached to tree. Bulbs should not be in direct contact with needles or branches.
- Never use an open flame on a real or artificial tree.
- Candles should be held firmly by non-flammable holders. Do not leave unattended.
- Keep candles away from flammable materials, such as curtains. Keep out of reach of children.
- Before lighting a fire, make sure the flue is open. Remove debris in fireplace, such as greenery or wrapping paper.
- Do not use the fireplace as an incinerator. Greenery can burn rapidly, throwing off sparks. Burning wrappings and packaging can create a "flash fire" as well as produce toxic fumes in poorly ventilated fireplaces.
- Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start or restart a blaze. Invisible vapors can cause an explosion. Use wood and matches. Remember to keep matches out of reach of children.
- Keep a screen in front of the fireplace during the blaze to prevent flying sparks from igniting carpet or nearby objects. Do not leave a fire unattended.
- If using artificial logs, follow package instructions carefully. For instance, do not "break open" logs. Also, manufacturers of some metal modular fireplaces do not recommend use of artificial logs because of the intense heat produced. Check your particular fireplace.
- An expert should clean fireplaces once every 200 or 300 burnings to avoid a build-up of creosote. (Creosote is carried up the chimney as a vapor, some of which cools, condenses and adheres to chimney walls. With each fire burned, the gummy tar like substance builds up with the soot to cover the chimney with a flammable residue layer.) Use of vacuum or chemical cleaners are not a totally effective way of removing the creosote layer. Scraping and brushing are the best methods of removing deposits. Check the Yellow Pages under "Chimney" for professional help.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times.
- Before closing the flue, make sure fire has completely died.
- Be careful in wearing loose, flowing clothing near fireplaces and other open flames.
The Fort Worth Fire Code provides parameters for placement and care of Christmas trees in businesses. Live trees are prohibited in certain occupancies such as nursing homes, hospitals, and places of assembly. Guidance for placement and care can be found in Appendix IV-B of the Fire Code. You may contact a Fire Inspector at 817-392-6840 for advice and specific regulations.
- Careless smoking is a primary cause of fire and fire-related deaths in Fort Worth. Check furniture, carpeting and waste baskets for smoldering smoking materials, particularly after holiday gatherings.
- Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers make great holiday gifts.
- The sale, use and possession of any type of fireworks are prohibited in the City of Fort Worth
- Don't let "fire prevention" be a holiday-only matter. Emphasize fire safety to your family. Each member should know, if possible, at least two means of escape from each room in the house. A specific location outside should be designated as a meeting place to make sure everyone is safely outside.