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KFD stresses importance of fire safety during holidays

Matthew Lane • Dec 4, 2019 at 10:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The holiday season is upon us, and as we celebrate with friends and family during this joyous time, please remember we’re also surrounded by all manner of potentially dangerous and deadly situations.

Your Christmas tree might catch fire. A cat could knock over a lit candle. Simply warming up your car in the morning could fill your garage with carbon monoxide. Chances are none of this will occur, but accidents do happen, and the best way to prevent them taking place is to use some common sense, pay attention when decorating the house and follow these additional safety tips from the Kingsport Fire Department.

“We just want everybody to be safe,” said Barry Brickey, public education and information officer for the KFD. “It would be wonderful to have a Christmas holiday season without any fires.”

CHRISTMAS TREE SAFETY

• Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

• Before placing the tree in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk.

• Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source and not blocking an exit.

• Add water to the tree stand and be sure to add water daily.

• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

“A Christmas tree, a live one, that catches on fire could get to 1,100 to 1,200 degrees in about 30 seconds or less and can spread quickly in a home, cause a lot of smoke and be super heated,” Brickey warns. “Thankfully, we’ve not seen many Christmas tree fires.”

HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING

• Keep children and pets away from lit candles.

• Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.

• Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.

• Ask smokers to smoke outside and provide large, deep ashtrays for them.

ADDITIONAL SAFETY TIPS

“Cooking fires is one of the largest reasons we have fire calls, and it doesn’t always turn into large fires,” Brickey said. “A lot of times people leave (the stove) or are distracted from it, either from a phone call, kids running around or company.”

December is the peak time of year for home candle fires with the top two days for such accidents being Christmas and Christmas Eve. Each year an average of 7,900 home candle fires were reported from 2013 through 2017, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“We have had a lot of candle fires over the years. Some fires we believe the pets have knocked over a candle and started the fire,” Brickey said. “So make sure nothing is close to the candles if you’re going to use. We suggest you not use them and use LED candles. They even make them where they smell like real candles.”

Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires and one in every five home fire deaths. While portable generators are useful during power outages, many homeowners are unaware that their improper use can be risky.

The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards. If you’re going to use a portable generator, Brickey advises you to keep the generator a good distance from the house and to run heavy power cords to them.