Simple steps make a safe holiday, village chief says

A Christmas tree full of lights, ringed with brightly wrapped gifts and covered in softly glowing glass ornaments, family, friends and fire trucks and hoses – not everything in that scene is fun for the whole family this holiday season and Granville village fire chief Ryan Pedone hopes everyone will take a few precautions to make the holiday season a safe one.

“There is no one thing to be most careful of, but there are a few simple things to consider from overloaded outlets to your chimney or the Christmas tree there area basic things to watch out for,” he said.

Pedone said simple steps can be taken to minimize risks associated with the holidays. “People just need to be careful,” the chief said. With an unexpected warm November and early December some might have delayed or forgotten to get some basic home maintenance done to their heat sources, whether it is a furnace or a woodstove or a fireplace.

“People tend to let that slide if the weather stays warm longer,” he said.

With the winter heating season likely arriving in the days before Christmas, a few things need to be considered.

“You’ve got to make sure your chimney’s clean or make sure your furnace has been cleaned,” Pedone said.

“If you’re burning wood, make sure it’s dry and get your furnace inspected,” he said.

While checking out that woodstove chimney pipe it’s also a good time to ensure the dampers work. And always look around the stove to ensure nothing is too close to it from furniture to holiday decorations, he added.

To help keep the family safe, remember to change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s always a good idea to tie the battery change date to a major holiday or a well publicized milestone like daylight savings time, he said.

Pedone also said people need to remember that CO detectors are now required in homes and both types, separate units and combinations, should be changed about every five or six years or whatever their expected lifespan is.

Statistically, fires tend to surge around the holiday season as a number of contributing factors combine to make the holidays a time of increased risk.

A common cause of home fires which increases during the holidays involves fires from cooking. Although a house full of children or guests can be a distraction, Pedone said, people should stay with their cooking because the kitchen is the number-one place for a home fire to start and unattended cooking is the chief reason for that statistic.

A popular way to prepare a turkey has become deep frying, but this method also carries some risks and requires some precautions.

Deep-frying a turkey is an outdoor event and cookers need to realize flare-ups or boil- overs can occur during the cooking, especially at the beginning if the turkey has icicles on it. 

Plenty of other risks can be avoided with a little planning and caution, Pedone said.

Overloaded electrical circuits, old Christmas tree wiring and lights and unattended candles are just a few of the things the chief said residents need to watch out for during the holiday season.

Take the time to get a good look at all of their holiday lights and extension cords, he said; check their condition and replace the ones in tough shape – don’t tape up that wire for the fifth time –replace it or don’t use it.

The newer type LED lights use considerably less power while producing much less heat that older conventional bulbs, providing another incentive to make the switch, Pedone said.

Another step which is easy to take and will help prevent fires is simple – be sure to water your tree. “Keep it watered; trees are less likely to be affected by exposure to heat from lights or other sources if they don’t dry out,” Pedone said.

Residents should seriously consider the electrical load they plan to place on one of the plug-in power strips. Ideally, everyone could purchase their power strips from a store where qualified personnel could answer any questions regarding the demands they have planned for the device Pedone said it would be ideal if.

“There’s a big difference between them,” Pedone said.

Pedone recommends using a surge protector type power strip with circuit breakers.

Should those breakers trip, don’t just reset them, he said, it is time to evaluate what is causing the problem.  

Another low-tech hazard can be avoided with some caution and attention, Pedone said.

Thousands of fires are started by unattended candles each year, peaking in the month of December. They could have been avoided by ensuring the candles are not placed anywhere near flammable materials from the Christmas tree to curtains or paper towels, he said.

People should extinguish candles when leaving their home for any reason regardless of how long they expect to be gone and also before going to sleep, he said.

Aside from the increased dangers that come with the holiday season, Pedone said, it is crucial to remember home fire safety every day.

Have an escape route that the family has agreed upon and practiced, he said. And be aware that summertime route might not work during the winter so have a snow season fire escape plan and practice that just like you would during warm weather.

 

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