The winter holiday season poses many potential risks in terms of fire safety. It is important that families recognize the dangers and exercise caution to prevent fires from starting during the holidays. 

Research has shown that risk of house fires and related death increases during the time between November and January. The compassionate attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz have provided the following tips for preventing fires during the holiday season.  

Be Mindful of Indoor Electrical Use

Home decorating is one of the most popular ways to commemorate the holiday season. But holiday decorations such as lights have the potential to overwhelm electrical circuits if they are not wired in a safe manner. Be sure to turn off and unplug string lights when you leave your house, or when they are not needed. Additionally, do not hang lights near or on paper or fabric decorations. Though they are not electrical, it is also important to be mindful of the safe use of candles around the holidays. As many decorations are made of highly flammable materials such as fabric and plastics, it is important that you position candles away from other décor. Do not leave lit candles unattended.

Home warming devices such as space heaters cause numerous fires each year. This is due to the fact that they are left unattended or are placed too closely to furniture and objects. It is important that you always turn off and unplug a space heater before leaving a room and especially your home. Additionally check these devices each winter to be sure that their electrical cord does not look worn or frayed. Any split in a cord may cause a spark which has the potential to ignite a fire.

Be Mindful of Outdoor Electrical Use

Hanging lights outside is a wonderful way to bring holiday cheer to your neighborhood. However, it is important that homeowners and building managers check that lights and any electrical cords used for this purpose are intended to be used outside. Additionally, make sure that the decorations are securely fastened so that they are not struck loose by weather conditions. Ensure that any cords or lights are not exposed to standing snow or puddles of water.

Be careful when plugging many cords into one outlet or extension. Overwhelming an electrical outlet can cause fires. Also, check the electrical capacity of any extension cords that you use to be sure that it matches that of the cords you intend to connect to it.

Christmas Tree Safety

Christmas trees and other decorative holiday plants have the ability to easily catch fire if you do not take the right safety measures. Be sure to place all trees and plants away from electrical outlets, heating devices or open flames. If you plan on having a live tree in your house, ensure that you purchase a fresh tree and give it fresh water daily. When trees dry out, their needles have an increased capacity to catch fire. When decorating, ensure that all of your lights and decorations are safe to hang on the tree. If you decide to purchase an artificial tree, check the packaging to be sure that it is fire resistant.

It is important that you exercise caution and good judgment during the holiday season, as there are many factors that can potentially cause fires. For more information on fire prevention and safety contact your local fire department.