By Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
---- — The holiday season is widely considered a time for fun and family gatherings although the potential for residential fires is a concern for area firefighters.
Nearly half of all residential fires nationally occur during the months of December, January and February. Nationally, 500 deaths and nearly 2,000 injuries are related to December fires alone.
One of the leading causes of home fires is misuse of extension cords and the use of space heaters as the primary source of heat in residences.
Extension cords are frequently used to light and connect Christmas decorations both the inside and outside of homes. An overloaded extension cord is a fire hazard waiting to happen and dangers are compounded by high energy drawing space heaters and or multiple electric items connected to a single power cord.
As temperatures drop, an alarming number of families turn to small space heaters as a means to keep warm and use extension cords to help power them. Space heaters come in various sizes and styles, regardless, they should not be left unattended or placed near furniture or other combustible items. More importantly, space heaters should never be used as the primary source of heat in a residence or apartment. Stoves and ovens should also not be used to heat homes.
If space heaters are used they should be UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listed and they should be plugged directly into a wall or floor outlet, as they require more energy than lamps and most extension cords are unable to safely handle the amount of current necessary over a prolonged period of time.
According to firefighters, many fires are preventable and are caused by old – overloaded power sources, unattended cooking accidents and candles.
It is recommended that residents keep all potential fuel sources (decorations, live trees and wreaths) at least three feet from any heat source.
Before turning in for the night, residents are asked to take a quick trip through their residence to make sure all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished.
Other safety measures families should follow:
- If artificial trees or wreaths are used inside the home it is important to make sure they are fire retardant.
- If live trees are used it is important to keep them moist.
- All trees (real or artificial) should not be placed near heat sources such a fireplaces, space heaters, radiators and heat vents.
- Holiday lights should be in good working order and unplugged nightly.
- Do not use multiple extension cords to extend the length of light strands.
- Strand of lights that are cracked or have frayed wires should be properly disposed of and not used,
Candles should be extinguished when leaving the room or turning in for the night. Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Candles should be placed out of the reach of children.
Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.