|Safety first – fire district offers tips for holiday season posted on 12/01/2022|
As members of the Mountain community busy themselves
decorating and preparing to celebrate the festive time of the year, Hoodland
Fire District (HFD) Division Chief/Fire Marshal Scott Kline urged residents to
keep fire safety in mind throughout the holiday season.
“This should be a happy and exciting time of the year, but
don’t let that distract you from keeping your family and friends safe from
fire,” Kline said. “By following a few important safety tips, you can help
ensure your holidays remain happy.”
Holiday cooking, decorations, candles and Christmas trees
all contribute to an increase in house fires nationally during the holiday
months and winter according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Cooking fires, often caused by unattended stoves or
distracted behavior, are a leading cause of home fires around the holidays. A
2020 NFPA report stated that Christmas Day is the second-leading day of the
year for home cooking fires; Christmas Eve is the fifth.
“U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of
790 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding
Christmas trees, in 2015-19,” according to NFPA.org. More than two of every
five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat
Candles offer a decorative glow to the holidays but pose a
significant risk for house fires. Kline stated that Mountain residents are
urged to not leave candles unattended and make sure they are not near
combustible materials. During the month of December candles start 45 percent of
home decoration fires.
Almost three times as many candle fires occur on Christmas
Day as the daily average.
Christmas tree fires account for a smaller percentage of
holiday fires, but a dry Christmas tree can ignite and spread a fire in
minutes, causing greater damage to a structure.
A live Christmas tree burn of a dry tree conducted by the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) documented that flashover, or a
rapid spreading of fire from one surface to another because of intense heat,
can occur in less than one minute, as compared to a well-watered tree, which
burns at a much slower rate.
Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved
in almost half of home Christmas tree fires. Nearly one in five Christmas tree
fires were started by decorative lights.
HFD suggested that Mount Hood residents follow these
guidelines to assure a safe and joyful holiday:
Tree care and Decorating Tips
– Choose a fresh, healthy tree with a deep-green color and
– When you get the tree home, cut off the bottom two inches
of the trunk. This creates a fresh, raw cut for the tree to soak up water.
– Water your tree daily. A tree may consume between a quart
and a gallon of water per day.
– Place the tree at least three feet away from any heat
source such as a fireplace, woodstove, heating duct or radiator.
– Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant materials to
trim a tree.
– Always unplug tree lights before leaving home or going to
– If using a woodstove or fireplace, keep it always
screened. Keep ribbons, boughs, and other decorative materials at least three
– After the holiday season, promptly dispose of the tree and
other greenery before it dries out.
– Burning a tree in a stove or fireplace is dangerous;
proper disposal includes recycling or pick-up by a disposal service.
– Maintain your holiday lights. Inspect holiday lights each
year for frayed wires, bare spots and broken or cracked sockets.
– Do not overload electrical sockets. Do not link more than
three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe.
A safe alternative is to use battery operated, flameless
candles which can look, smell and feel like real candles. However, if you
decide to use real candles, follow these safety tips:
– Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish
candles when you go to bed, leave a room or before leaving the house.
– Keep candles away from things that burn. Keep candles at
least one foot away from combustibles including clothing, curtains, upholstered
furniture, greenery and decorations.
– Always use a sturdy non-combustible (metal, glass or
ceramic) candleholder. Make sure the candleholder is big enough to catch
– Place candles out of reach of small children and pets.
– Keep candles out of high traffic areas.
– Trim wicks to one-quarter inch before lighting.
– Avoid candles with items embedded in them such as twigs,
flowers or leaves. These items can ignite or even explode.
– Always use a flashlight (not a candle) for emergency
General fire safety
– Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of
your home, outside each sleeping area and in each bedroom.
– Make a home fire escape plan and practice it with the
– Keep escape routes clear of clutter so you can escape
quickly in case of fire.
For more information on holiday fire safety, please visit
By Ben Simpson/MT