by SHYANNE LOPEZ

Tis the Season

With the holiday season quickly approaching, many are making preparations for the feasts, gatherings, and fun to be had. But don’t let the festivities let you forget that, according to the United States Fire Administration, the holiday season also means an increase of house fires. Therefore, in the midst of gearing up for the colder season it’s important not to forget some crucial steps to keep your home safe. To help prevent fire hazards we’ve compiled some guidelines that will help you keep your home and loved ones cozy, cheerful, and warm – but not too warm.

Keepin’ it Cool in the Kitchen
Because cooking is the leading cause of fires in the U.S., it’s important to take extra precautions this time of year, whether it’s the Thanksgiving feast or a traditional family meal. First and foremost, never leave your kitchen or home unattended while cooking. Check on your cooking frequently and be aware of what appliances are turned on. When children are in the kitchen, keep them away from hot food and liquids, as a splash from gravy or grease can cause serious burns. Consider keeping a fire extinguisher handy just in case and, if necessary, keep in mind that flour and baking soda can snuff out a grease fire while water can’t.

Careful with those Candles
No matter the holiday, it seems as if candles are universally loved during the winter months. They bring a sense of coziness to a room, but also pose some risks if not carefully attended to. Make sure to always blow out candles before leaving your home or before you fall asleep. In fact, it’s best to avoid using candles in the bedroom or somewhere you are likely to fall asleep. When placing your candles, choose a sturdy candle holder and place away from any curtains, blankets, paper, or plants. And of course, make sure your home’s fire detectors are working correctly.

Electricity and Wiring
As the months get colder, the houses get brighter. Before stringing up those twinkling lights, keep a couple things in mind. In older homes, electrical safety is important because most of them weren’t wired to withstand today’s electrical load limits. Avoid plugging too many items into an electrical socket, and don’t string together more than three strands of lights. Make sure you purchase holiday lights that have been tested for safety by an independent laboratory. Also, don’t hang indoor lights outside – or vice versa. Lastly, inspect your lights to make sure they are in good condition. This means checking for exposed wires or shattered bulbs, which should be replaced.

Don’t Forget that Tree!
In our warm Southern California climate, those who have a Christmas tree in their home should regularly check water levels. A dry tree is especially susceptible to catching fire. When first purchasing your tree, choose one with fresh green needles. Before placing the trunk into its stand, prevent your tree from drying out early by cutting two inches from the base of the trunk. Make sure to place your tree at least three feet from any source of heat such as a fireplace, lamp, or radiator, and avoid keeping your tree lights lit when you’re asleep, as most fires occur overnight. Once holiday festivities have come to a close, dispose of your tree sooner rather than later to avoid letting it dry out.

Space Heater Set-Up
While it might be hard for visitors to believe, San Diego actually can get a little chilly during winter. During these times, many choose to use space heaters rather than a furnace because it is less expensive – especially in larger homes. If you use a space heater, make sure it has been professionally tested for safety. Set up the heater so that there is nothing surounding it such as curtains or furniture that can catch fire. Always turn off the space heater before falling asleep, simply allow it to warm up your room. Because heaters require a lot of electricity, make sure it is plugged into its own outlet and not an extension chord.