Fourth of July
The Fourth of July traditionally presents the biggest fire danger to
citizens and is the cause of a great number of fires and burn injuries due
to fireworks. The Fire Department responds to more fires on this day than
any other in the year. Most occur in dry brush and grass, but several homes
are destroyed or damaged on this holiday. Fires are caused by careless
handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.
Nationally, more than $36 million in property is damaged each year due to
Most fireworks burn injuries involve children. These are usually burns to
the hands and eyes causing vision impairment and disfiguring scars.
Sparklers are the biggest danger to children. A tip temperature at the end
of the sparkler reaches 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily cause a burn.
Yes, people can die from fireworks and the fires they cause. In 1985, 26
people were killed this way. That's a large improvement compared to 1902,
when fireworks were legal in most states. In that year, fireworks and
fireworks-related fires killed more than 200 people.
Some people think that just because some fireworks are legal in some
states, they are more safe. The largest share of fireworks injuries are
caused by Class C fireworks, the kind that are legal in many states.
Restrictions on fireworks are for a good cause. No matter how small or
large a fireworks may be, it is a potential fire starter. But it is still
possible to celebrate and enjoy the holiday. Families can consult the
newspaper or local activity calendar and attend one of several approved,
licensed fireworks displays.
Halloween is meant to be spooky and fun but it's also important to keep
it safe for your children, your friends and yourself.
A simple ghost costume made from an ordinary bed sheet can be consumed by
flames if ignited. Purchase only flame-retardant costumes and masks. And be
sure costumes fit properly to prevent tripping and falling. Masks should
allow full vision.
If trick-or-treating door-to-door, wear something reflective, carry a
flashlight and travel in groups for safety. Keep well off the streets and
remove masks before crossing the streets. Better yet, have a spooky party
and stay in with your friends.
Check all treats carefully before eating them. Report anything
suspicious. Instead of a candle to light a jack-o-lantern, use a small
flashlight or a liquid light that glows for several hours after you bend it.
Never use combustible materials in a haunted house, especially Styrofoam
and other plastics, gauze type materials and other loose flammables such as
leaves and papers. These materials can quickly cause the spread of fire.
This situation can be especially dangerous when the fire starts in a
confined space such as the dark interior of a haunted house display.
Christmas trees that are not kept moist can present a very serious fire
hazard. A dried out Christmas tree can be totally consumed by fire in less
than 30 seconds. Most trees sold have been cut out of the state and have
been drying out since they were harvested, which could have been as late as
mid-November. Take special precautions when buying your Christmas tree.
Trees with brown shedding needles should be rejected. If the tree looks
green and fresh, take a long needle and bend it between your thumb and
forefinger. If it snaps, the tree is too dry. Look for trees with needles
that bend. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of
falling needles shows that tree is dry.
When you bring a tree home, cut about an inch off the end of the trunk.
This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb water. Make
checkerboard cuts into the base at different angles to make a greater
surface for water absorption.
Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed
or leave your home. A short circuit in any of this equipment could cause a
fire. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Damaged insulation in
lighting on a metallic tree could cause the entire tree to be charged with
electricity. To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a
metal tree, never fastened onto it.
Keep children away from light sets and electrical decorations. All lights
present the problem of shock and casualty hazards for curious kids. When you
are stringing the lights on your tree, be careful how you place them. Keep
all bulbs turned away from gifts and paper ornaments. Lights in windows can
cause curtains and drapes to ignite.
Candles are a traditional and beautiful part of the season. But they are
still a direct source of fire in your home. Keep candles a safe distance
from other things. And remember that a flickering flame is a thing of
fascination to little children. Keep candles out of their reach.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
- Always use non-flammable holders.
- Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
- Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over.
Dispose of gift wrappings soon after opening presents. A room full of paper
lying around on the floor is just one more holiday hazard. Place trash in an
approved container. Do not burn wrappings in the fireplace. They may ignite
suddenly and cause a flash fire.
One of the best Christmas gifts you can get someone is a smoke detector. A
smoke detector is worth so much, possibly a loved one's life, yet so
inexpensive. Over 90 percent of fire deaths occur in residential dwellings
between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are asleep. Smoke detectors alert
occupants when a fire is still small and there is still time to escape.
Holly and mistletoe can be fatal to a small child and the smaller the child,
the smaller the dose that can cause serious medical problems. Poinsettia
leaves are not fatal if swallowed, but can cause a skin rash and an upset
stomach. Call 9-1-1 if your children ingest any of these holiday plants.
Trimming The Tree
When choosing the finishing touches for decorating your tree, purchase
tinsel or artificial icicles of a non-leaded material. Leaded materials may
be hazardous if eaten by children or pets.
Avoid any decorations that tend to break easily or have sharp edges. Keep
tree trimmings that are small or have removable parts out of the reach of
your child. These pieces may be swallowed.
Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the UL
label from Underwriters Laboratories or another reputable testing agency.
Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires
or loose connections.
Check labels of lights to be used outdoors to see that they are suitable
for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Fasten outdoor lights
securely to trees, walls or other firm support to protect them from wind
damage. Use no more than three sets of lights per single extension. Read the
manufacturer's instructions carefully and do not use more than the
recommended number of lights in one circuit.