The New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish, Kenner, Jefferson Parish, Plaquemines Parish, St. Tammany Fire Protection District #1 Fire Departments, the American Red Cross and the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office would like to wish you and your family a SAFE Holiday Season.
As you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and New Year’s, remember many devastating fires have occurred in the metro area from holiday related activities. Decorative lights, candles, parties where people drink and smoke, and most of all, the onset of the heating season, all increase the likelihood of a fire. In keeping with this we have put together safety tips for all Metro New Orleanians to observe:
The following precautions should be taken regarding Christmas Tree Safety:
1. Christmas trees should be fresh, not dry. Lack of moisture in the tree increases its combustibility, so water the tree regularly.
2. When purchasing a fresh flocked tree ask the sales person if the tree has been treated with an approved flame-retardant flocking material, or ask where you may purchase the flame-retardant flocking material and treat the tree yourself.
3. Place the tree at a safe distance from heat sources such as room heaters or fireplaces. Also, locate the tree so that it will not obstruct the path of exit in case of a fire.
4. Use only "approved" lighting strings, that is, only those lights which have been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized product testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
5. Replace all Christmas tree lights that have "frayed" or broken wires, loose connections, or cracked plugs.
6. Unplug the tree lights whenever you leave home or go to bed.
7. Do not "overload" extension cords or electrical outlets, and do not place electrical cords under rugs or locations where the cord can be damaged. Always use an extension cord that has a three (3) pronged plug (which is an extension cord with a ground wire) that is approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for outdoor use.
8. Never hang electrical lights from a metallic tree as damaged insulation in the light string can electrically charge the tree, possibly causing shock or fire.
9. Do not use candles or any other open flame on or near tree.
10. Never burn Christmas trees in fireplaces because the flames can flare out of control and send sparks flying into the room.
11. After the Christmas holidays, remove the tree from inside your home as soon as possible, placing the tree a safe distance from the house for garbage collection.
When installing outdoor lighting to decorate your home, the following precautions should be taken:
1. Use a "dry, wooden or fiberglass ladder" when hanging holiday lights to reduce the chance of electrical shock, and stay clear of all overhead electrical wires.
2. Use "insulated staples that are hammered in, rather than staple guns," again, to reduce the chance of electrical shock and fire due to damaged wire insulation.
3. Water proof all electrical connections and keep them elevated so rain water will not drain into the connection which could cause shock or a short circuit.
4. Avoid standing in water while handling electrical wiring or when using electrical power tools.
5. Shut-off electrical power when replacing bulbs and keep the electricity off while putting up outdoor holiday lighting.
6. And, never allow the bulbs to touch combustible materials, such as wood, plastics, leaves, grass or pine needles.
COLD WEATHER FIRE SAFETY TIPS
- All heating sources should be checked annually by a licensed mechanical contractor.
- Floor furnaces should be cleaned and vacuumed prior to usage and should be checked for proper ventilation.
- Make sure floor furnaces are clear of all coverings.
- It is recommended that you do not use ALTERNATIVE HEATING sources! These are devices that utilize an open flame or exposed electric elements. They are considered the most dangerous and lethal form of heat and are responsible for many fires and deaths due to fire. If you decide to use an ALTERNATIVE HEATING source, please;
- Use a stove or oven to heat the home. This causes a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide gas in the home.
- All gas heating sources must also be properly ventilated. Keeping a window slightly opened can circulate fresh air and reduce carbon monoxide buildups in tightly sealed houses.
- All gas heating sources should put out a clear blue flame, if you see a primarily orange or yellowish flame; have it checked by a professional.
- Place heaters where they will not be easily knocked over.
- Do not use heaters to dry clothing or other items.
- Keep heaters at a safe distance from curtains, furniture and all combustibles, this is, at a minimum, of three feet.
- Plug electric heaters directly into the wall socket do not use an extension cord.
- Unplug heaters when they’re not being used.
- Check the cords on electric heaters before using. If the cord is frayed or splitting, discard the heater.
SAFE COOKING PRACTICES
- Don’t leave food unattended on the stove.
- Pot handles are to be turned in while cooking on the stove.
- Never wear loose fitting clothing when cooking, as it can dangle into burners and catch on fire.
- Keep appliances clean and free of grease and crumbs.
- Keep curtains & other combustibles away from the stove.
- Make sure the stove is off and small appliances are unplugged before going to bed.
- Keep fire extinguishers handy, especially in the kitchen.
- Best level of protection is to install a smoke alarm in every bedroom, another outside of every bedroom and on every floor of the home.
- The minimum level of protection is to install smoke alarms outside every bedroom and on every floor.
- Don’t install smoke alarms in the kitchen or bathroom.
- Test the smoke alarm monthly to ensure operation.
- Keep smoke alarms away from air vents.
- Place smoke alarms at least 4 to 6 inches away from walls and corners.
CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
- Install carbon monoxide detectors near bedroom areas and family rooms, for extra protection; place one about fifteen feet away from your home’s heat source.
- DO NOT install them near air vents or fans.
- Test your CO Detector each week by pressing the test/silence button to make sure that the alarm sounds.
- Keep your CO detectors dust free by vacuuming air vents regularly.
- Replace wiring if it’s frayed or cracked.
- Do not place wiring under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas.
- Use a surge protector to avoid overloading outlets.
- Keep covers over electric plates to protect children and avoid exposed wiring.
SAFE SMOKING HABITS
- Never smoke in bed.
- Keep ashtrays away from upholstered furniture & curtains.
- Always extinguish cigars, cigarettes & tobacco completely.
- Check wastebaskets & furniture for smoldering cigarettes.
- Use only flame-retardant or noncombustible materials for costumes and decorations.
- Use Chafing dishes with caution due to open flames and high-amperage (electric type).
- Provide smokers with large, deep, non-tip ashtrays and keep an eye on anyone who is drinking and smoking.
CHILDREN AND FIRE SAFETY
- Keep lighters and matches away from children.
- Teach children how to call for emergency assistance.
- Use safety plugs in electrical outlets.
- When buying Children's presents, avoid toys made of highly flammable materials, be sure that all electric toys bear the label of an independent testing laboratory.
- Use only lighters with a child resistant feature, and keep all matches and lighters out of children's reach, up high and preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Teach young children to stay away from candles, fireplaces, and space heaters.
WOODSTOVES AND FIREPLACES
- Use only seasoned wood. Never use green wood, plastic artificial logs, paper or trash.
- Make sure the chimney flue is open before the fireplace is used.
- Always use a protective screen.
- Clean interiors, hearths and chimneys yearly.
- Have your chimney inspected by a professional at least once a year and have it cleaned if necessary.
- Remove ashes in a metal container.
- Because they may rekindle, never store ashes in your home.
- Before you light candles put them in a non-tip candle holder.
- Never burn candles near a Christmas tree or combustible decorations or displays.
- Keep candles well away from curtains and other combustibles, and never put candles in windows or near exits.
- Don't leave candles burning unattended or within the reach of small children.
- Extinguish candles before you leave a room, go to bed, or leave home.
This year when you're making out your gift list, why not consider giving a gift of life. Smoke Alarms, Carbon-Monoxide Alarms or Home Fire Extinguishers make great holiday gifts that could save a loved one's life. Please help us to spread the word on Holiday Safety and have a SAFE and joyous Holiday Season!