(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about winter safety issues.)
Just because Santa has come and gone, doesn’t mean that we have shut down the celebrating — or the decorations, and it is as the holiday season wanes that experts warn us to keep up our guard on dangers from some of the decorations.
It’s easy to get carried away with decorating for the holiday season — bows, tinsel, lights, evergreens, candles.
And tradition plays such a huge part in our family celebrations that we want to use all of those ornaments that have been part of our lives for longer than we, frankly, want to remember. Not only do we set them up early, but we keep them up and use them, even when they are not safe.
One of our favorite ways to decorate and to render the traditional odor of the holidays, is through the use of candles.
But, according to information from the National Fire Protection Associations, candles continue to be one of the more dangerous decorations.
According to NFPA information, “during 2003-2007, United States fire departments responded to an estimated average of 15,260 home structure fires started by candles per year in the United States, and the top five days for home candle fires were Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, Halloween, and December 23.
“Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.”
NFPA tips for using candles during the Christmas season, and the rest of the year, too, include:
• Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
• Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
• Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
• Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
• Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
• Light candles carefully, keeping hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
• Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container so that the container won’t get too hot.
• Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
• Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.