Holiday Preparedness

My mother had a saying, “Christmas comes the same time every year, two weeks too early!” She was an elementary teacher and there were always parties, programs, pageants and presents for which to prepare.  This year seems no different.  December’s calendar fills up pretty quickly and the Big Day will be upon us in no time.  

For thousands of folks living in the Chico/Paradise, California, area, this Christmas will be especially difficult.  Thousands have lost their homes, hundreds are missing and the death toll is nearing the 100 mark.  For many there can be no real celebration at a time when the rest of the world is making merry.  Disaster has a way of ruining celebrations.

Every year we read reports of holiday tragedy in the form of house fires.  Make sure your home and family are safe this season by following a few simple safety rules.   Inspect your Christmas tree lighting for worn wiring, overloaded circuits and and if you are still using those screw-in bulbs, make sure there are no broken bulbs or exposed filaments.  One of every three Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. 

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are likely to be serious.  On average one of every 40 reported home Christmas tree structure fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported structure fires.  A heat source too close to the tree causes one of six reported Christmas tree fires. 

More than half (56%) of home candle fires are a result of something flammable situated too close to the flame.  There are a significant higher percentage of candle-related fires in December than other months of the year.

If you’re still putting up a “real” tree every year, make sure you keep it well-watered.  If you’ve ever burned your tree after Christmas, you know how fast it can go up in flames.  

Here are a few more tips from the experts: Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.  Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents.  Get rid of your Christmas tree immediately after the holiday.  Connect no more than three strings of mini lights, or no more than 50 lights of the screw-in variety.  

Oh and one more thing, keep your fire extinguisher handy.  It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to explode in flames.  No time to run out to the garage and grab your extinguisher. 

Winter is statistically the worst for home fires.  Cold weather coupled with holiday decorations and over-burdened heating and electrical systems boost the danger-factor significantly.  Take care of your family this year and walk through your home with “fresh eyes” looking for anything that may cause a fire.  Let’s keep our families and homes safe this holiday season.  Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

As always send your questions and suggestions to Previous columns can be found on my blog at Dave Robinson is the author of Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us .” He is an author, pastor and freelance writer.