Holiday fire safety
By Staff Sgt. Kurt Trausch, 366th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering Squadron
/ Published November 15, 2011
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us once again. As hectic as the holiday season may be, we need to make sure fire safety is not over-looked. Typically, this time of year we have many fire safety issues in our homes and workplaces we must be aware of.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates an average of 210 structure fires per year are ignited by Christmas trees. Christmas trees need to be carefully selected to ensure they are of good quality and will last the duration of the holiday season. When looking for a fresh cut tree there are a few key factors to remember: A fresh tree is green and will have a higher moisture content. If fresh, the trunk of the tree will be sticky with sap. If you bounce the trunk of the tree on the ground and get an excessive amount of needles or the needles break when you bend them, the tree is becoming dangerously dry, and needs to be kept away from heat sources as it will increase drying as well. Finally, if your tree has become dry, do not turn on the lights, and remove the tree from your home as soon as possible.
Holiday decorations, when used correctly, will make your home very festive for the holidays. If they are used improperly they can pose a potential fire hazard. Holiday lights are one of the biggest hazards because they are electric and produce heat. Commonly, electrical circuits are overloaded because of too many lights on a circuit. The best practice is to break up how many lights you put on each circuit to reduce the possibility of an overload. With some planning you can have the brightest and safest house on the block. Holiday lights need to be Underwriters' Laboratories approved and be inspected each year for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard or repair damaged sets before using them.
Turkey deep-fryers have become more popular over the last few years. NFPA estimates turkey deep fryers cause 1,000 home fires annually. Always use cooking equipment that's been tested and approved, and always follow the manufactures instructions on use. Make sure the fryer is placed on a level surface and the area is clear from combustibles. Never leave a turkey fryer unattended and have a serviceable fire extinguisher nearby. Finally, make sure the turkey is fully thawed before cooking.
(Editor's note: If you have an emergency in your house off base call 911 and on base call 828-0911. If on base and you call 911 from your cell phone, your call will go to Elmore County Dispatch and let them know you are on base. If you are calling from a DSN phone just dial 911. Have a safe and happy holiday season from Mountain Home AFB Fire & Emergency Services.)