By Edward Chavez, Fire Inspector, JBLM Fire and Emergency ServicesDecember 17, 2018
As we continue this holiday season, we tend to concentrate on getting to the end, whether it's setting up the decorations, getting and wrapping the gifts, assembling family members or planning our holiday meals. It's important that we take a minute to make sure that this is a memorable holiday and not one we want to forget.
While a lot of people already have their tree up and house decorated, some military families like to wait for the service member to come home from deployments or training to decorate. But regardless if you are still waiting for your tree or you already have one up, take a few minutes every day to ensure that we are doing it fire safely. National Fire Protection Association recommends the follow when setting up you decorations:
• When choosing your tree make sure the needles are a healthy green color, if they are shaded brown or falling when touched keep looking.
• When you get it home, cut about 2 inches off the base of the trunk.
• Setting up at a safe location means at a minimum 3 feet from any heat source. One in every four fires are caused by heat source to close to the tree. Also do not place in exit path.
• The tree needs to be watered at least daily, in the beginning you may have to water more frequently. Look in the stand for the water level.
• Use only flame retardant tree decorations -- that also means at no time do you use a candle with a flame as a tree as a decoration. The tree lights should be in working condition. Replace any worn or broken cords and replace those that have loose bulb connection. Limit the use of extension cords. When you use them, ensure they don't become a tripping hazards. One in every three Christmas tree home fires are caused by electrical issues.
• Interior decorations that are used need to be kept a least 36 inches from any heat source, so when you "hanging the stockings on the chimney with care" ensure they aren't exposed to heat. Also chimneys should be cleaned, to limit the creosol build up.
• Candles, when not used correctly, can and will ignite any items that will readily burn. JBLM Fire Prevention encourages the use of battery operated candles. Some can give the same ambiance as real candles without the heat source.
• Outside decorations should be nonflammable or flame retardant. Don't arrange them to limit your evacuation route.
• All outside lights should be for outside use, don't assume all decorations can be used outside. Read the labels. Also majority of manufactures recommend that no more than three strands of light can be attached on one string.
• Finally all decorations should be turned off "when settled your brains for a long winter's nap" and when you are not home.
Cooking at this time of year can be a challenging. Just like we remind you at holidays and every day, do not leave any cooking unattended. Turn all handles away from kids that may wander into the kitchen.
If you have an oven fire, the following steps need to be done:
• shut the oven off,
• call 911 to report a fire,
• never open the oven door.
Stove top fires can mostly be extinguished by simply covering the fire with a lid or use baking soda then shutting off the power. Never move the pot. And again call 911.
If you still need that fried turkey fix, remember the following:
• keep all fryers at least 3 feet from any structure,
• place on a firm, level surface, not in the grass,
• follow the directions for frying the turkey, importantly the bird needs to be fully thawed,
• have an operational ABC fire extinguisher close by,
• limit the consumption of alcohol as it can impair your judgment.
Finally, have you bought all the 9-volt batteries for the gifts that require them? Why? Because the smoke alarm batteries should not be swapped because the gifts batteries were not thought of.
JBLM Fire Prevention wants to ensure that all the smoke alarms are fully functioning. Smoke alarms need to be tested monthly and make sure everyone in the house understand the emergency evacuation plan.
Please call your JBLM Fire Prevention office if you have any questions, 253-966-7164
Make this one of those memorable holidays and not the one you want to forget!