Saturday marks the beginning of this year’s "Keeping the Wreath Red" campaign from the North Shore Fire Department.
The campaign highlights the importance of added home fire awareness during the holiday season. During the campaign, a wreath with red lights will be hung outside each of the five stations in the NSFD. If holiday decorations cause a fire, a red bulb will be switched out for a white bulb.
“When we’re talking about the holiday season, there are extra hazards in place,” said Capt. John Maydak of the NSFD.
These extra hazards are not solely related to decorations. According to Maydak, the most common cause of house fires is cooking. Some of the added hazards during the holiday season include:
- electrical issues
- real Christmas trees
- wood fireplaces and other heating equipment.
Several steps can be taken to prevent fires from these potential causes.
Cooks and bakers should take extra care when preparing holiday treats or large meals. Things such as pan handles and oven mitts should be kept clear of all heating elements.
Maydak offered advice on safely decorating a home. Both home owners and renters should thoroughly inspect their decorations before hanging them, checking for issues such as missing bulbs or frayed wires. Decorations should also be hung with things such as command hooks, rather than nails. It is also important to be sure electrical circuits are not overloaded and that extension cords are used properly.
Water real trees heavily
Maydak also emphasized the importance of properly maintaining a real Christmas tree.
“Customers should make sure that their tree has been freshly cut when they purchase it,” said Maydak.
Real Christmas trees should also be watered on a regular basis during the entire time they are up. The water level should be checked every day. According to the NSFD Christmas Tree Safety information sheet, a 6-foot tree will need a gallon of water every two days. Trees should be left outside until they are ready to be decorated, and one inch should be cut off of the trunk prior to putting it up to help the tree absorb water.
Heating equipment and wood burning fire places are also a concern around the holiday season as it gets colder. Maydak advised that wood fire places should be both inspected and cleaned by a contractor at least once a year.
He also emphasized the importance of inspecting and maintaining other units such as space heaters and furnaces. It is also important to have properly functioning carbon monoxide detectors in the home as well to help ensure the safety of heat sources.
Maydak pointed out other concerns with common household items such as candles, and he said people should always keep a safe distance from a candle flame and keep them out of the reach of children.
The NSFD has run this campaign every year since its inception in 1995.
So far this year, there have been no home fires related to holiday decorations. Wreathes with the campaign will be lit up 24 hours a day from Dec. 1 to Jan. 5.
More information on home safety during the holidays, as well as year round, can be found at the NSFD website. The website provides information on dectector maintenance, creating a fire escape plan and other imporant safety tips and events.