Jessamine County Coroner

Don't Let the Holiday's Go Up in Smoke

The last thing we want to think about during the holidays is a devastating fire in our home.  We can almost envision the terrible panic, the sirens, the emergency responders, the smoke, a destroyed home and perhaps even the injury or tragic loss of a loved one, when the word “fire” is mentioned.

 Every fire can’t be prevented, but the vast majority can.  A large dose of common sense, coupled with basic fire safety tips provided by the NFPA and other organizations, should allow all of us to get through the holiday season and beyond, unscathed by fire.

While a home fire is not something most of us will ever have to experience, there are some who will not be so fortunate.

 Each year holiday season fires claim the lives of more than 400 Americans, injure 1650 more and cause more than $990 million in damage. 

Candle-related fires are one of the most common holiday home hazards, averaging more than 12,000 each year, resulting in 36 deaths, 1000 injuries and $450 million in property damage.

Christmas trees, both natural and artificial, were the item first ignited in an average of 240 home fires each year, causing 13 deaths, 27 injuries and $16.7 million in direct property damage.  Consider that within 3 seconds of ignition, a dry scotch pine is completely ablaze, within 40 seconds, a flashover occurs that engulfs the entire room and releases dense, deadly toxic smoke.

The good news is that in less than a minute you can help prevent a tragedy. Here’s how:

Prepare-Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home near sleeping areas. Test alarms weekly. Involve children so they know what to do if alarm goes off. Change batteries twice a year regularly (do this when you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time.

Plan-Be sure to have a family fire escape plan, and practice it with all members, including children. The plan should include a meeting place outside the home.  Plan on how to get very young children and infants out quickly.

Prevent-These simple steps only take a minute and could prevent a lifetime of regret:

Install carbon monoxide detector

Use a fireplace screen on your fireplace.

Never leave a cooking pot or oven unattended, even for a minute.  Cooks should stay in the kitchen.

Never burn trash or wrapping paper in your fireplace.

Don’t leave your fireplace fire unattended.  Put fire out before you go to bed.

Make sure candles are in a stable holder and keep away from combustible materials, including the tree, and small children, and blow out before leaving the room. Remember kids are fascinated by fire.

A dry tree is more susceptible to fire, so keep it fresh by checking the water level daily.  Most trees dry out in about 2 weeks, so don’t leave it up too long.

Check holiday lights for faulty lights, wires and plugs before using.

Turn off all holiday lights before going to bed.

If your smoke or carbon monoxide detector alarm goes off, get everyone out of the house and call 911.

Don’t go back into the house until it is cleared by the fire department.

May you and your family have a safe and Happy Holiday Season!
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