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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Holidays Demand Increased Fire Safety Precautions

Holidays Demand Increased Fire Safety Precautions

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - It’s the holiday season and many people love to fry a turkey, decorate a live Christmas Tree and put up outdoor lights.
Done improperly they can end up in a hospital burn unit from oil burns and if that doesn’t burn the house down, a dry live Christmas Tree will land video footage of someone’s home going up in smoke on the 6 o’clock news. The same goes for those Clark Griswald’s of the world that love to put up 10,000 lights while forgetting the difference between UL listed indoor or outdoor approved strands of lights.
The following is a refresher course of sorts to remind everyone that while the holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends, safety should always be a deciding factor.
• Frying turkeys: This is an obvious bomb waiting to go off unless treated with extreme care and caution. Absolutely  never attempt to deep fry a frozen turkey. The pot may erupt hot oil and can catch fire from the gas heating flame spreading liquid fire all over the yard and if close enough, onto your home.
You can find turkey fryers at places like Lowes or other hardware and do-it-your-self outlets.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):
• Keep fryer in FULL VIEW while burner is on.
• Place fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
• Never use IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
• Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
• COVER bare skin when adding or removing food.
• Check the oil temperature frequently.
If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.
•  If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water.
For safest operation, CPSC staff recommends that consumers follow these guidelines as they prepare to use a turkey fryer:
• Make sure there is at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.
• Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.
• Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
• Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to add. If those are not available:
• Place turkey in pot
• Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
• Remove and dry turkey
• Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level.
Live Christmas Trees: According to the According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) (online at www.usfa.dhs.gov), each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage. There are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
Preventing Christmas Tree Fires:
• Christmas Tree Fire Hazards
Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
• Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch.
Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
• Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.
Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
• Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Holiday Lights
• Maintain Your Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
• Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.
• Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended
• Holiday Decorations
• Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
• Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers and may result in a chimney fire.
• Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Candle Care
• Avoid Using Lit Candles
If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
• Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree: Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.