Simple steps make a big difference in preventing holiday fires

Each year fires occurring during the holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reminds all residents there are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following the recommended precautionary tips of the USFA, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty. Quick and easy-to–follow precautions can be found at www.usfa.dhs.gov.

“On behalf of all firefighters, we desire for everyone to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season in 2007,” said U.S. Fire Administrator Greg Cade. “The USFA has joined with other national organizations to provide these easy to use and understand safety precautions. Following these simple precautions will ensure our firefighters and communities avoid tragic and sad losses from fires.”

It might surprise some that cooking equipment, most often a range or stovetop, is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Cooking equipment is also the leading cause of unreported fires and associated injuries. Serious injury or even death can occur when people cook wearing loose clothing (especially hanging sleeves), walk away from a cooking pot on the stove, or leave flammable materials, such as potholders or paper towels, around the stove. Whether you are cooking the family holiday dinner or a snack for the children, practicing safe cooking behaviors will help keep you and your family safe.

Additionally, more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels. Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.

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