From the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office
Lake Charles, LA - The holidays are approaching with almost lightning speed and during the hustle and bustle of the festive season, fire safety is often overlooked. Sheriff Mancuso said, "People turn their attention to shopping, decorating, and social gatherings, overlooking the fact that the threat of fires in the home is most severe during this time." According to the National Fire Protection Association, December, January and February are the leading months for home fires and home fire deaths in America.
Sheriff Mancuso added, "Fire hazards often increase during the holidays because of overburdened electrical outlets, decorative lights, and burning candles. When not properly tended, they can spark deadly, destructive fires."
To help ensure a joyful Christmas and fire-safe holiday season for everyone, Sheriff Mancuso advises that the following basic fire safety guidelines be observed:
- When buying a Christmas tree, make sure the needles have not dried out. Once home with your tree, place it in a holder filled with water, replenishing water as needed.
- Do not place a tree in a doorway or in front of escape routes.
- Use only decorative lights approved for the specified use you have in mind.
- Do not use outdoor lights inside the house and vice versa.
- Do not overload electrical circuits with excessive lighting and extension cords.
- When using an artificial tree, make sure it is marked "flame retardant."
- Keep fresh garland and trees far away from portable heaters, fireplace, or candles.
- Do not burn garland. Sparks can float out of the chimney and ignite the roof of a nearby home.
- Keep candles away from flammable areas, and never put them on or near a tree.
- Do not display candles in windows.
- Keep all candles and matches out of the reach of children.
- Beware of glass candle holders. The wick may get too close to the glass and shatter it.
- After holiday parties, check for cigarettes in upholstered furniture before going to bed. Cigarette fires are still the leading cause of fire fatalities in the home.
- Do not burn trash, gift wrap, or green wood in a fireplace. They can create creosote build-up in the chimney, which can lead to a chimney or roof fire.
Sheriff Mancuso concluded, "We all have a tendency to think that fire tragedies happen to other people in other places, but the reality is that they can happen to people just like you and me.