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News > Commentary - ‘Tis the season to be safe
‘Tis the season to be safe

Posted 12/19/2012   Updated 12/19/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Bob Hildreth
Hanscom Fire Department chief

12/19/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- 'Tis the season to be jolly, as the holiday standard goes. In many homes, this means a log on the fire, a trimmed tree or a menorah glowing brightly. All these signs of the season bring feelings of comfort and joy to families. But what you may not realize is that they also bring an increased risk of fire in the home.

The winter months are the peak times for home candle and heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Almost half of all home decoration fires are started by candles, while 38 percent of home heating fires started in fireplaces or chimneys.

Hanscom Fire Department's holiday wish is for all base residents to have a merry, bright and safe holiday season. By recognizing holiday fire hazards and using a little extra caution, families can help keep their home full of comfort and joy.

When decking the halls, choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant and keep them away from candles or any other heat source. Not all holiday lights are made equal so be sure that you know whether yours are for indoor or outdoor use and be sure to replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.

Lighting candles, whether for decorating or religious rituals, should always be done with caution. Candles should be in a sturdy holder and placed on an uncluttered surface. Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire. Never leave a lit candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Additionally, candles placed on or near tables, altars or shrines must be monitored by an adult.

Lastly, roasting anything on an open fire in the fireplace is not a good idea. Make sure that the fireplace has a sturdy screen and keep kids three feet away. Have chimneys cleaned regularly and dispose of ashes in a metal container far away from the home.

We know that the holidays are a hectic time of year for all residents. Please help the Hanscom Fire Department and keep our community safe from fire this season.

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