As Christmas rapidly approaches, I thought that we could think of a different list from those being written by children for Christmas morning. It...

As Christmas rapidly approaches, I thought that we could think of a different list from those being written by children for Christmas morning. It has always been my intent to prevent fires or any other type of accident that could stop your family in their tracks. In almost every case, accidents are preventable. We must be of a mindset that a fire or accident can occur in a moment. I am going to offer you a hodgepodge list of things to keep in mind as you enjoy this special time of the year.

Do you have an appropriate number of smoke alarms in your home and do they work? You need to test your smoke alarms monthly.

Is there an electrical problem in your house that you have continued to overlook?

Have you had your chimney cleaned yet? For those of you that heat with wood, a byproduct of unseasoned wood is creosote. Creosote can build up on flue walls and cause a fire to occur in a place where a fire is not designed to be.

If you have a wood stove or fireplace, be very careful what you do with the embers that you clean out. They must be placed in a metal container outside. Many fires have occurred because people thinking that the embers were out put them in a paper bag and set them in a

garage, on a front porch, or on the back deck.
If you burn wood or have propane or natural gas appliances, then you need a working carbon monoxide detector. Remember, carbon monoxide affects us cumulatively, which is a low dose over a long period of time or acutely, which is a large dose all at once.

The kitchen will be the place that a fire is most likely to occur. Cooking is a full-time job!
If you have to clean your gutters because of leaves or you are thinking of putting Christmas lights up, remember you could fall from your ladder and get hurt badly like a friend of mine did recently. You must be intentional about every step in setting a ladder, climbing it and coming down a ladder. The most dangerous moments are when you are reaching to the sides of a ladder that is or is not footed, as well as the times when you step off of and onto a ladder, to or from the roof.

If you are planning to bring a live tree into your house, you must do everything possible to keep it from drying out. You have heard me say that a dry tree that catches fire is like dousing that area with gasoline and lighting it off. Trees burn fast and hot, bringing an entire room to the point of flashover much quicker than usual. People are decorating for Christmas earlier and earlier, which can be the reason that a tree may dry up prior to Christmas Day. If the tree dries out and starts to shed its needles, then you need to remove it.

Remember to keep all combustibles at least three feet from any heat source.

It is always important to have a practiced home escape plan, but with more combustible material in your home during Christmas, it becomes even more important. Could you or your children get out of a window if you had to? Do you have a rescue ladder and have you practiced with it?

What are you doing with your discarded smoking materials? Cigarettes burn at 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Mulch beds and containers in your home or on your porch or deck have been the point of origin of many house fires. People die in fires because they are not prepared for a fire to occur. Disabled smoke alarms, careless mistakes, and a breakdown of electrical, gas, or wood appliances can lead to a fire or accident in your home. None of us want these things to occur, but you must plan what you and your family will do when it occurs. I want you to have a safe and joyful holiday. A few moments of thought and preparation may save you from becoming the breaking news of the day. Enjoy your holiday and enjoy your family. We have much to be thankful for, especially in this country. Pay attention to what you are doing. If a problem arises, act appropriately and call 9-1-1. Houses can be rebuilt; lives cannot. If you do not mind your P’s and Q’s, then you will have problems.

Unwanted fires cause those uninvited guests to come to your home. Firefighters would love to come and fight your fire; that is why we became firefighters.