Few people associate home fires with the holidays, but amid packed schedules, bustling homes, and distractions galore, it can be easy for a simple mistake to turn into a major problem. Consider the following statistics from the American Red Cross:
- Nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage.
- On average, one of every 22 home fires started by Christmas trees result in death.
- During the winter holiday season, an average of 40 home fires per day are caused by children playing.
- Candle fires are four times as likely to occur during the winter holidays.
As startling as these statistics are, they can easily be changed with a little planning. For example, if you have a fireplace in your South Florida home, have your chimney flue cleaned before the first cold front hits. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, soot can accumulate over time and cause a fire. Also, never burn Christmas tree branches in your chimney. They are extremely flammable and can cause a fire to spread very quickly.
Here are a few fire safety reminders to share with your loved ones this holiday season:
- Be extra careful when cooking. It can be easy to get distracted with a house full of guests, but never leave anything cooking unattended. Also, be sure to keep kids out of the kitchen where they may touch hot surfaces or pull on cords. Likewise, always turn off the stove, oven and cooking appliances when you’re done using them. A good way to remember to do this is to choose a buddy to remind you or set a reminder on your phone.
- When it comes to holiday lights and electrical decorations, never use them if the electrical cord is frayed. Additionally, as tempting as it may be to plug in one last inflatable decoration, never overcrowd power outlets.
- Keep Christmas trees several feet away from heat sources such as candles, fireplaces, and heaters. Speaking of Christmas trees, if you go for the real thing, keep it well watered to help stop it from drying out.
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Unplug holiday and tree lights if you’re leaving the house and before you go to bed.
- Last but not least, check that your smoke alarms are in good working order.
If your home or your belongings have been damaged as result of a fire, you have a right to be compensated for those damages as detailed in your homeowner’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes delay paying on a claim or fail to pay the full value of a fire loss claim. Additionally, you may have responsibilities to cooperate and promptly provide certain information to your insurance company following a fire loss. If you suffer a fire loss, you should consult with a first party property damage attorney to help protect your rights and to help you receive proper compensation on a fire loss claim.
Holiday Home Fires Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2016, from http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340080_FireHolidayFactSheet.pdf