It’s a tragedy we’ve seen all too often during the holidays – fire claims a family’s home destroying gifts and other possessions, and sometimes with even more horrific consequences.

The US Fire Administration (USFA), a part of the Department of Homeland Security, reports holiday season fires claim the lives of more than 400 people each year, many more injured, and nearly $1 billion in damage.

We wish we’d never see this tragedy occur again and we hope you never have to face it. There are a lot of simple things you can do to stay safe and happy this holiday season. Here are 19 holiday fire safety tips to keep top of mind:

 

Christmas Tree Safety

1. A live Christmas tree can become engulfed in flames in seconds, filling a room with fire and deadly gases. When selecting a tree, be sure to find one that is fresh, with green needles that don’t easily fall off. An old, dried out tree is a fire hazard.

2. Don’t put your tree close to a fireplace or heat vent. Heat dries out the tree, again creating a fire hazard.

3. Keep the stand filled with water at all times.

 

Holiday Light Safety

4. Inspect holiday lights for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in insulation, etc.

5. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

6. Don’t overload electrical outlets – no more than 3 light strands in series.

7. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging into the outlet.

8. Never leave holiday lights on unattended. After a busy day or holiday party, go through the entire house and turn off the lights and tree before going to bed or leaving the house.

 

Holiday Decoration Safety

9. Use only nonflammable decorations.

10. Place decorations away from heat vents.

11. Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace; it can result in a very large fire.

12. If you use a metallic or artificial tree, be sure it is flame retardant.

 

Candle Safety

13. Avoid using lit candles if possible. If you do use them, place them in stable holders where they can’t be knocked down. Never leave candles unattended.

14. Never put lit candles on a tree – don’t go near a Christmas tree with any open flame.

 

Other things to remember:

15. Make sure your smoke alarms have fresh batteries.

16. Don’t leave cooking appliances unattended.

17. Have a chimney sweep inspect the fireplace.

18. Know when and how to call for help.

19.Practice your home escape plan.

It’s easy to become distracted by the busyness of the holidays, but the cost can be high. Be safe! And if the unthinkable happens, you can trust Disaster One to take care of any fire damage that may occur.

Do you have other safety tips? Share them with us.