FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2009


State Fire Marshal urges Missourians to think of fire safety during holidays


State Fire Marshal Randy Cole is reminding Missourians to consider fire safety as they gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays.

"We should all remember that every December across the U.S., home fires tend to rise," said State Fire Marshal Randy Cole.  "The reasons for this include the fact that temperatures are dropping and more people are heating their homes.  But other factors involve holiday celebrations, including the use of candles, Christmas trees and other decorations, as well as increased cooking for family gatherings.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, across the country December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top four days for candle fires are around Christmas and New Year's, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  In December, 13 percent of home candle fires begin with decorations, compared to 4 percent the rest of the year.  According to the U.S F.A., there are an estimated 17,400 home candle fires each year, killing about 180 people.

The U.S.F.A. recommends these precautions around the holidays:

·      Don't use real candles as part of decorations and remember to always exercise basic safety when using candles throughout the home.

·      Never leave a lighted Christmas tree or other decorative lighting display unattended.  Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets.  Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not place an electrical cord under a rug.

·      Natural Christmas trees always involve some risk of fire.  To minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times.  Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent.

·      Decorate with children in mind.  Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them.  Trim protruding branches at or below a child's eye level and keep lights out of reach.

·      Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood, or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.

·      Declare the kitchen off limits to children and those adults not assisting with food preparation.  A crowded kitchen can increase the danger of spills and burns.

·      Be prepared to deal with cooking fires.  Remember to never put water on a grease fire.

Fire Marshal Cole reminds everyone to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as fire extinguishers, to make sure they are working properly and to review home escape plans with all family members.  He added that overnight guests should also be educated on home escape plans.  

"Winter is the most dangerous season for injuries and deaths due to fire," said Cole.  "Considering fire safety takes only a few minutes but will help ensure the safety of the people with whom you are celebrating the holidays.”

  

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For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail mike.o'connell@dps.mo.gov