Holiday fire-safety saves lives

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- As the holidays approach, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging people to look for and eliminate potential dangers from holiday lights and decorations that may lead to fires and injuries.

Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 8,100 people for injuries such as falls, cuts and shocks related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees. In addition, Christmas trees are involved in more than 400 fires annually, resulting in 30 deaths, 90 injuries and an average of than $17 million in property loss and damage.

To have a safe and happy holiday season follow these safety tips:

Turkey Fryers

The majority of reported incidents occurred while the oil was being heated prior to adding the turkey. For this reason, it is very important consumers monitor the temperature of the oil closely. For proper use, follow these safety guidelines:

· Locate the fryer at least 15 feet from a structure and never utilize indoors.
· Have an ABC-rated fire extinguisher available.
· Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on.
· Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures.
· Never use in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or any structure that can catch fire.
· Raise and lower food slowly to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
· Cover bare skin when adding or removing food.
· Check the oil temperature frequently.
· If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. Do not attempt to extinguish the fire with water.
· If smoke is noticed coming from a heating pot of oil, turn off the burner immediately because the oil is overheated.

Trees

Live trees are permissible in military family housing; residents in all other base facilities including the dormitories may only utilize artificial trees. Please follow the following safety guidelines to prevent tree fires:

· Tree selection must emphasize freshness to minimize the fire hazard of dry needles. If needles fall from the limbs when you shake the tree, put it back and purchase one whose needles do not drop.
· Before mounting it in the house, cut its base so it can absorb water and check the water level daily.
· Place the tree away from fireplaces and other heat sources.
· Use only lights that are Underwriter's Laboratory approved. Before putting them on the tree, make sure that there are no frayed wires, loose plugs or broken bulbs.
· Use flame-resistant trimmings.
· Do not overload electrical outlets or run electrical cords under rugs or in traffic areas.
· Before leaving the house or going to bed, turn the lights off.

Holiday Decorating

Each year, 12,500 people are treated at hospital emergency rooms for injuries such as falls, cuts and shocks related to holiday lights and decorations.

· Indoor or outside: Use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory which indicates compliance with safety standards. Use only lights that have fused plugs.
· Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
· Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
· Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
· Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights form wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks.
· Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
· Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters.

For more information on holiday fire-safety contact the Hurlburt Fields Fire Prevention Office at 884-2910 or 884-2966