The Fourth of July traditionally presents the biggest fire danger to citizens and is the cause of a great number of fires and burn injuries due to fireworks. The Fire Department responds to more fires on this day than any other in the year. Most occur in dry brush and grass, but several homes are destroyed or damaged on this holiday. Fires are caused by careless handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.
Nationally, more than $36 million in property is damaged each year due to fireworks.
Most fireworks burn injuries involve children. These are usually burns to the hands and eyes causing vision impairment and disfiguring scars. Sparklers are the biggest danger to children. A tip temperature at the end of the sparkler reaches 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily cause a burn.
Yes, people can die from fireworks and the fires they cause. In 1985, 26 people were killed this way. That's a large improvement compared to 1902, when fireworks were legal in most states. In that year, fireworks and fireworks-related fires killed more than 200 people.
Some people think that just because some fireworks are legal in some states, they are more safe. The largest share of fireworks injuries are caused by Class C fireworks, the kind that are legal in many states.
Restrictions on fireworks are for a good cause. No matter how small or large a fireworks may be, it is a potential fire starter. But it is still possible to celebrate and enjoy the holiday. Families can consult the newspaper or local activity calendar and attend one of several approved, licensed fireworks displays.
Halloween is meant to be spooky and fun but it's also important to keep it safe for your children, your friends and yourself.
A simple ghost costume made from an ordinary bed sheet can be consumed by flames if ignited. Purchase only flame-retardant costumes and masks. And be sure costumes fit properly to prevent tripping and falling. Masks should allow full vision.
If trick-or-treating door-to-door, wear something reflective, carry a flashlight and travel in groups for safety. Keep well off the streets and remove masks before crossing the streets. Better yet, have a spooky party and stay in with your friends.
Check all treats carefully before eating them. Report anything suspicious. Instead of a candle to light a jack-o-lantern, use a small flashlight or a liquid light that glows for several hours after you bend it.
Never use combustible materials in a haunted house, especially Styrofoam and other plastics, gauze type materials and other loose flammables such as leaves and papers. These materials can quickly cause the spread of fire. This situation can be especially dangerous when the fire starts in a confined space such as the dark interior of a haunted house display.
Christmas trees that are not kept moist can present a very serious fire hazard. A dried out Christmas tree can be totally consumed by fire in less than 30 seconds. Most trees sold have been cut out of the state and have been drying out since they were harvested, which could have been as late as mid-November. Take special precautions when buying your Christmas tree. Trees with brown shedding needles should be rejected. If the tree looks green and fresh, take a long needle and bend it between your thumb and forefinger. If it snaps, the tree is too dry. Look for trees with needles that bend. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is dry.
When you bring a tree home, cut about an inch off the end of the trunk. This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb water. Make checkerboard cuts into the base at different angles to make a greater surface for water absorption.
Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave your home. A short circuit in any of this equipment could cause a fire. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Damaged insulation in lighting on a metallic tree could cause the entire tree to be charged with electricity. To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a metal tree, never fastened onto it.
Keep children away from light sets and electrical decorations. All lights present the problem of shock and casualty hazards for curious kids. When you are stringing the lights on your tree, be careful how you place them. Keep all bulbs turned away from gifts and paper ornaments. Lights in windows can cause curtains and drapes to ignite.
Candles are a traditional and beautiful part of the season. But they are still a direct source of fire in your home. Keep candles a safe distance from other things. And remember that a flickering flame is a thing of fascination to little children. Keep candles out of their reach.
Dispose of gift wrappings soon after opening presents. A room full of paper lying around on the floor is just one more holiday hazard. Place trash in an approved container. Do not burn wrappings in the fireplace. They may ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.
One of the best Christmas gifts you can get someone is a smoke detector. A smoke detector is worth so much, possibly a loved one's life, yet so inexpensive. Over 90 percent of fire deaths occur in residential dwellings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are asleep. Smoke detectors alert occupants when a fire is still small and there is still time to escape.
Holly and mistletoe can be fatal to a small child and the smaller the child, the smaller the dose that can cause serious medical problems. Poinsettia leaves are not fatal if swallowed, but can cause a skin rash and an upset stomach. Call 9-1-1 if your children ingest any of these holiday plants.
Trimming The Tree
When choosing the finishing touches for decorating your tree, purchase tinsel or artificial icicles of a non-leaded material. Leaded materials may be hazardous if eaten by children or pets.
Avoid any decorations that tend to break easily or have sharp edges. Keep tree trimmings that are small or have removable parts out of the reach of your child. These pieces may be swallowed.
Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the UL label from Underwriters Laboratories or another reputable testing agency. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections.
Check labels of lights to be used outdoors to see that they are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls or other firm support to protect them from wind damage. Use no more than three sets of lights per single extension. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully and do not use more than the recommended number of lights in one circuit.