With the 2022 holiday season upon us, the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) would like to remind everyone that fire safety should be practiced every day of the year, and especially during the busy holidays when it is needed the most.

To help celebrate and in the spirit of Christmas, the SFMO brings you the 12 Days of Fire Safety.

1. If using candles, make sure they are away from decorations and other items that can burn, and blow them out when you leave the room.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than one third of home decoration fires are started by candles, and more than two of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. In Washington State, 1,085 fires reported were caused by an open flame, which includes candles.

2. Only use outdoor and indoor lights as indicated on their packaging.

Lights for both indoor and outdoor usage must meet different standards that testing laboratories can verify. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections and throw out damaged sets.

3. Turn off tree lights, decorations, and portable space heaters when away or asleep.

A total of 869 fire incidents caused by heating related issues occurred last year in Washington State. Heating equipment failure is a leading cause of fires in homes across the United States. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from any flammables or combustibles.

4. Never overload circuits, extension cords, or electrical sockets.

Overloading could cause a fire. If using an extension cord, make sure you don’t exceed the maximum current limit of the cord.

5. Never throw wrapping paper in a fireplace to burn.

When burned wrapping paper can cause a flash fire that ignites suddenly and burns intensely. Remove all wrapping paper from the tree and fireplace areas immediately after presents are opened.

6. Check your smoke detector batteries and test them regularly.

Batteries should be replaced at least twice a year as working smoke detectors cut home fire deaths in half. Because of the life expectancy of smoke detector sensors, manufacturers recommend that you replace your detectors every 10 years.

7. Never leave cooking or baking unattended.

Most people do not realize that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires. Be especially careful when you are using the stove or cooktop and while frying foods; as reported by the NFPA, unattended cooking equipment is a major factor in home fires.

8. Water fresh Christmas trees daily.

A cut tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. Place trees three feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry trees out rapidly, creating a fire hazard. Check the freshness of your cut tree daily and when placing the tree, keep it out of the way of walkways and do not block doorways.

9. Ask any smokers to smoke outside and provide reasonable accommodations.

Remind those who choose to smoke to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them. Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers and remind them to use ashtrays for disposal.

10. Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.

Teach young children to never touch matches or lighters and remind them to tell an adult when any of these items are found. Keep all portable ignition sources in a locked cabinet and up high, preventing children from their access.

11. Be careful with holiday decorations and only use non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.

Choose tinsel, artificial icicles, or plastic or non-leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.

12. Before the holidays: develop and practice a fire escape plan.

Know at least two ways out of every room. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily. Practice using different ways out and teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.

Click here for more information on Winter fire safety.

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