By Michael Ullery
December 11, 2013
Will E Sanders
PIQUA — Earlier this month a resident along Nicklin Avenue arrived home and found the smoldering remains of an artificial Christmas tree after a faulty power strip shorted out and caused extensive damage.
While the artificial tree did not actually catch fire, the smoke caused by the smoldering tree caused extensive smoke damage to the home, and fortunately the fire did not spread.
It serves as a great reminder this time a year for what a homeowner can do to safely decorate and celebrate the upcoming holidays.
Executive Director of the Northern Miami Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross R. Scott Miller said there are a lot of tips and precautions homeowners can take into account to avoid the tragedy of a holiday house fire.
“Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, and as people are cooking, entertaining, and stringing lights this holiday season, we’re urging that they take safety measures to ensure that their homes and loved ones are safe from the threat of fire,” Miller said in a press release.
Miller urged residents to “take extra precautions with cooking and decorating around the holidays,” and provided several tips.
Some tips, he said, are common while others might be information a resident might not be aware of.
As should be the case one of the most important tips is making sure to test smoke detectors to ensure they are working correctly.
Fire safety tips related to holiday entertaining include: checking food regularly while cooking, remaining in the home while food is cooking, using the oven’s timer, enforcing a “kid-free zone” in the kitchen, keeping anything flammable away from the stove, properly cleaning cooking surfaces, and purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen.
When it comes to safety as it relates to Christmas decorations, including real and artificial trees, tips consist of: using flame resistant or flame retardant decorations, keeping children and pets away from lit candles, replacing strings of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections, connecting no more than three strands of lights together, reading instructions for lighted Christmas decorations, using clips (not nails)to hang lights so cords don’t get damaged, and keeping decorations away from windows and doors.
According to the American Red Cross and the National Fire Prevention Association, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the top three days for cooking fires.
On average, the American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes and the majority of them are home fires.