The Houston Fire Department wants everyone to have a safe holiday season. 

The pie in the oven needs to be checked, last-minute gifts are arriving, the house desperately needs cleaning after a tree-and-light-hanging palooza; and you still haven’t finished your assignments for work. There is so much to do as the year wraps up, and as much as the kids enjoy it, the adults may have a different perspective. 

With a growing holiday to-do list, mistakes are bound to happen and it’s best to take precautions to avoid safety hazards, especially fire. To help Houstonians during the holidays, the Houston Fire Department released a Holiday Safety Guide with a few simple tips to avoid dangerous situations involving cooking, decorations, and more.

Never leave cooking food unattended. 

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries. There are obvious safety measures to practice such as never leaving cooking food unattended, and making sure pot holders are never too close to the stove. However, it is equally important to always have a working smoke detector and to keep broilers, ovens, stovetops, and exhaust ducts free from grease. Additionally, only use an ABC fire extinguisher, baking soda, or a tight-fitting pot lid to extinguish a fire, rather than flour or water. 

Be mindful of dried-out trees.

Dried-out trees are liable to cause fires. Dropping needles is one of the first signs as they should be disposed of, rather than left inside the house, garage, or even against the house. A few easy ways to ensure your tree remains healthy and non-hazardous, are to buy trees as fresh as possible, without any browning or needles falling, and position it away from any sources emitting heat. Likewise, a secure base with water, wet sand, or any products designed to keep trees fresh is also recommended.

Always double-check your lights.

Stringing up lights around the house is a highlight of the season. To keep it tangle-free, be aware of proper light maintenance if there are any frayed wires, and whether or not your lights are UL certified. You can also save energy and prevent hazards by using smaller bulbs, and turning off your lights when you are not at home or asleep.

Be Cognizant of Heat Usage

Portable and gas heaters require careful handling, and without intentional upkeep, a fire is likely to happen. A reliable portable heater should always have a safety switch, wiring in good condition, and should never require the use of extension cords. Gas heaters, on the other hand, should be checked on a regular basis. To do this, check for leaks with soapy water, test the heater to ensure a blue flame is emitted, and only attach copper flexible threaded connectors rather than a rubber hose.

Cigarettes, Candles, and Party Safety

It is important to be aware of cigarette and candle use; as they are liable to start a fire hours after they are used. Check ashtrays, trashcans, and any areas where cigarettes may be discarded during and after gatherings. They smolder after usage, so always make sure to douse used cigarette butts with water before throwing them away. Likewise, candles should never be unattended or in reach of children, and should always have bases sizeable enough to safely contain melted wax.

For more information regarding the complete safety guide and methodology, visit the website.

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