Holiday Safety Tips

With the fall season upon us, the Winston-Salem Fire Department wants everyone to have an enjoyable and safe Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The mission of the Winston-Salem Fire Department and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is to educate the citizens and communities in Winston-Salem by promoting fire safety and preventive measures to aid in decreasing fires, injuries and non-fire related incidents.

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Christmas tree Safety

Christmas treeIn a four-year span, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 240 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees. Home Christmas tree fires caused an average of 13 civilian deaths, 27 civilian injuries, and $16.7 million in direct property damage per year. Although these fires are not common, when they do occur, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 18 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death compared to an average of one death per 141 total reported home structure fires.

Carefully selecting a fresh, green needle or artificial tree, placing the tree at least 3” from any heat source, properly lighting the tree and disposing of the tree when the needles start to drop are all essential in making the holidays safer.

Holiday lights and other decorative lighting with line voltage were involved in an estimated average of 150 home structure fires per year in this same period. These fires caused an average of eight civilian deaths, 14 civilian injuries, and $8.5 million in direct property damage per year.

In a study of fall-related injuries during the holiday season, an annual average of roughly 5,800 fall injuries related to holiday decorating.

  • Holiday Decorating Safety [video]
  • Christmas tree Safety [video]
  • Christmas tree fire demostration [video]
  • Holiday Safety Tips [pdf]
  • Christmas tree Safety Tips [pdf]

    Holiday Cooking

    table full of food

    Cooking fires are the number one cause of residential fires and injuries. The leading cause of fire in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Overheated cooking oil will start to bubble and smoke excessively. This bubbling reaction often overflows and ignites. The fire is intense and could spill over and out of the pan instantly. Microwaves ovens are one of the leading home products associated with scald burn injuries that are not related to fires.

    Turkey Fryers that involve immersing the turkey in hot oil is not a favorable method of cooking by NFPA. The use of turkey fryers can often lead to devastating burns; other injures and fires due the use of substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures and dangers of the hot oil being release at some point during the cooking process.

  • Turkey Fryers Safety Demonstration [video]
  • Cooking Safety Tips
  • jack-o-lantern

    Halloween Safety

    With Halloween right around the corner, careful planning can make the holiday a fun and fire-safe one. During the five-year-period of 2006-2010, NFPA estimates that decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 1,000 reported home structure fires per year. These fires caused an estimated average six civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries and $16 million in direct property damage per year. To stay safe this Halloween season, here are a few tips we recommend:

    1. When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out. Also, be sure that costumes and decorations are made with flame resistant materials.

    2. Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.

    3. Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.

    4. It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.

    5. Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.

    6. Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)

    7. Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.

    8. If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.

    9. Remind children to never eat treats until they have been inspected by an adult.

  • Halloween Safety Video
  • Halloween Fire Safety Tips
  • See the NFPA website for recommended safety measures
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    All information provided on this webpage was retrieved from the NFPA website. Please visit NFPA website to receive additional information on fire and life safety preventive measures.

    Please contact us for any assistance or additional information you may need at (336) 773-7900 or send an email to the department’s Community Educator Specialist.

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