Before you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart. A small fire that spreads to a Christmas Tree can grow large very quickly.
Picking the tree
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall of when touched
Placing the tree
- Before placing the tree in the stand cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
- Do not block any exits with your tree.
- Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
Lighting the tree
- Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory, some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off the Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried out trees are a fire hazard, and should not be left in the home or garage, or leaning against your house. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.
Every year dozens of people are injured and hundreds of fires are reported because of grilling accidents. With the popularity of outdoor cooking, the problem promises to get worse before it gets better.
The leading cause of injuries and fire from gas grills is leaking fuel lines. Improperly connected hoses, cracked or broken hoses, misaligned venturi tubes can release unlit propane that can quickly build up and cause an explosion. Modern gas grills are vented to prevent gases from building up inside cabinets so a slow leak doesn’t pose much of a danger, but turning off the gas at the source (the propane tank) is always the safest strategy.
When it comes to out-of-control gas grill fires, identify the source of the fire. If the fire is the grill itself then carefully turn off the control knobs and let the fire die down.
If the fire is under the grill and you can get to the fuel tank, turn off the tank. This should kill the fire almost immediately. If it does not, or if you cannot get to the tank valve, get away from the grill and call the fire department.
Charcoal presents its own risk due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Burning charcoal produces a lot of this gas. There were over 20 deaths in the US last year alone from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with charcoal grilling.
The leading cause of injury related to the use of lighter fluids, is attempting to relight charcoal. Pouring lighter fluid onto hot coals causes the fluid to quickly vaporize. These vapors can be extremely flammable. Without a strong wind the explosive vapors will not dissipate and will wait around for you to light the match.
Everything has risks. Knowing what those risks are and how to reduce them is key. When cooking outdoors, whether hot and fast grilling, or low and slow barbecue, there are a few things you need to know to make sure nothing goes wrong and how to get the most out of your cooking. There is more to outdoor cooking safety than just fire…continued in next week’s blog.