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“Project Holiday” works to educate the public about potential fire risks during holiday season

“Project Holiday” works to educate the public about potential fire risks during holiday season

Festive celebrations, flickering lights and winter greens are hallmarks of the holiday season, but they also present fire risks that can quickly turn this celebratory time of year into a devastating one. To help everyone safely enjoy the holiday season, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is launching its annual “Project Holiday” campaign, which works to educate the public about potential fire risks during the season.

“The holidays bring lots of opportunities to cook, entertain and decorate at home, but many of these traditions and activities carry potential fire hazards,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy.

Holiday decorations, Christmas trees, candles and cooking all contribute to an increased number of home fires during December, making it one of the leading months for U.S. home fires.

Holiday cooking: While cooking fires are the leading cause of U.S. home fires and injuries year-round, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve ranked second and third (after Thanksgiving) as the leading days for home cooking fires. On Christmas Day in 2014, there was a 65 percent increase in the number of home cooking fires as compared to a typical day, and a 57 percent increase on Christmas Eve.

Christmas trees: Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur, they’re much more likely to be deadlier than most other fires. One of every 34 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death each year, compared to an annual average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.

Candles: December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top four days for candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. In December, 11 percent of home candle fires began with decorations, compared to 4 percent the rest of the year.

Holiday decorations: Between 2009 and 2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 860 home fires that began with decorations (excluding Christmas trees). These fires caused an annual average of one civilian death, 41 civilian injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage. One-fifth (20 percent) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen; 17 percent started in the living room, family room or den.

“Fortunately, there are many steps people can take to ensure that the season remains festive and fire-safe,” Carli said. “It just takes a little added awareness and following some basic safety precautions.”

“Project Holiday” offers a wealth of fire safety tips and information for consumers, along with tools and resources for local fire departments to promote the campaign’s safety messages in their communities.

For more information, go to www.nfpa.org

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