This article will be dated December 25, 2019, but you might be reading this on Christmas Eve. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of fire safety every day of your life. Fires at Christmas seem to hit a bit harder, but if you lose a loved one to a fire in August, it is just as painful. I remember a house fire that occurred a few years back, on Christmas Eve. I know that I may sound like a broken record, but the message is worth repeating, if you change one thing that makes your family safer. The narrative went something like this, Daddy, how can Santa come down the chimney with a fire in the fireplace? The fire was extinguished and the ashes were removed and placed on the front porch. In the wee hours of the morning, while everyone was sound asleep, a fire broke out, killing some members of the family. This particular fire cause is much more prevalent when the fireplace is used more often.
I went to a fire one Christmas while our families had gathered at the fire station for our annual Christmas dinner. We cooked all day, only to respond to this fire, the moment that we sat down. This fire was caused by an improper bulb being used in an electric candle. The bulb heated up more than usual, igniting the curtains. Thankfully, the family got out safely, but the house suffered major damage, leaving it uninhabitable One other remembrance about this fire was that a car ran over our large diameter supply hose, putting a hole in the hose, with crews operating in the house. The moral of that point in the story is never run over fire hose.
Another fire cause that needs to be mentioned are fires caused by candles that burn with a flame. An old slogan concerning candles was, “When you go out, blow it out!” In other words, when you leave a room, you should blow a candle out. Most candles have been placed in glass containers, making them much safer, if the candle is forgotten and burns all the way down. Candles that are not enclosed are capable of causing a fire if knocked over, or if combustibles are too close to burning candles.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, living Christmas trees that are brought into your home must be treated with great care, preventing them from drying out. A cut tree is dead, so the drying process is inevitable. You must keep the tree well-watered. If the needles begin to fall off, the tree may need to be removed from your home. A dry tree is likened to pouring gasoline in your home and setting it on fire. Dead trees burn fast and hot. I remember a Christmas time fire that was started by a dry tree. The fire was so hot that the family could not get to the first floor. The father used an extension cord to lower his children out of the second floor of the house. Again, thankfully, the family escaped uninjured.
I did not even mention cooking related fires, but just remember 3.7 out of every 10 residential fires start in the kitchen. That said, a proper number of properly placed smoke alarms are vital to your fire safety plan. You must test your smoke alarms, ensuring that they are working, at least during a test. Another piece of the smoke alarm puzzle is, will your family wake up when smoke alarms are activating? The only way to know for sure is to set them off, while your family is asleep. If the smoke alarms will wake your family, will they know what to do after being awakened? A practiced home escape plan is another key piece. How will your family exit the home, if the primary escape route is blocked by fire or smoke? A comprehensive plan will address that. Merry Christmas, everyone, and I pray that you take the necessary steps to sleep soundly, every night that you lay your head down.