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Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department's Top 10 List For Holiday Fire Safety:

1) CHRISTMAS TREE: If you have a live tree inside your home, please check the water daily. It's a great chore for kids for the month of December. If your tree is artificial, please double check to make sure it is fire retardant.

Here is a recipe to ensure your tree is fire retardant:

2) OUTLETS: Don't overload outlets with holiday lights and make sure all electrical wires are in working order.

3) SMOKE DETECTORS: Setting the clocks forwards and backwards is a great time to check smoke detectors, but so are the holidays. Consider changing out batteries and doing a check on all detectors inside your houses. They should be placed on each level of your home. If you need help with this, consider contacting our station for assistance.

4) HEAT SOURCES: Fire places and wood burning stoves are running strong this winter, please put the hot ashes from those units in a metal bucket and store away from the home.

5) CANDLES: Burning candles? Make sure they are far enough away from anything that could catch fire and double check to make sure all are blown out before heading to bed. The American Red Cross says candle fires are four times more likely to occur over the holidays.

6) LIGHTS: The holiday lights are beautiful, but please consider unplugging before you turn in for the night. Also, double check to make sure those lights aren't broken, cracked or have bare spots on the strands.

7) WOOD BURNING: Seasoned wood is the best thing for you to burn. It's not wise to throw wrapping paper and other debris in your fireplace or wood burning stove to eliminate waste.

8) FOOD: Consider setting a timer on your phone to alert you, in case you forget something is on the stove. Statistics prove unattended cooking is the leading cause of holiday fires this season.

9) DECORATION PLACEMENT: Ensure all of your exits are clear and do not block any doors with trees, displays or any other type of holiday decor.

10) ALL TREES: Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from heat sources and at the end of the holiday season, consider tossing out the tree before the New Year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says holiday trees contribute to 400 fires every season.


Ice Safety

Before venturing out on a frozen lake or pond keep in mind: There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice. Recommended minimum ice thickness: 

4" of new clear ice is the minimum thickness for travel on foot
5" is minimum for snowmobiles and ATVs
8"- 12" for cars or small trucks

Remember that the recommended thickness' are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.

Working Together for Home Fire Safety

More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 25,000 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It's not a question of luck. It's a matter of planning ahead.

Smoke Alarm for the Hearing Impaired

People who are hearing impaired should use alarms with strobe (flashing) lights that have been tested by an independent testing laboratory. The alarms for sleeping areas with strobe lights are required to be of a special high intensity that can wake a sleeping person. Most major smoke alarm companies offer alarms with strobe lights. For information on availability and pricing, go to the manufacturers' Web sites.

  • Consider installing a smoke alarm that uses a flashing light, vibration and/or sound to alert people to a fire emergency. The majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping, and because smoke can put people into a deeper sleep, it is important to have the necessary early warning of a fire to ensure that they wake up.
  • Be sure that the smoke alarm you buy carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.
  • If there is fire or smoke, get out immediately and go to the designated meeting place. But if you are trapped by fire or smoke, have your TTY/TTD device or other alerting system close to the bed so that communication with emergency personnel is possible should fire or smoke trap you in your room.
  • Alarms with a 10-year lithium batteries eliminate the problem of having to change batteries. The batteries are designed to last the life of an alarm. Ten-year battery alarms still need to be tested in accordance with manufacturers' instructions at least once a month. 
  • Alarms that go off because of burnt toast, steam, or other non-threatening sources can be a nuisance and can discourage people from using smoke alarms. Use alarms with a silencing feature that can be pressed to delay the alarm for a short period time. If the smoke does not clear in a certain amount of time, the alarm will sound again.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside each separate sleeping area. If you sleep with bedroom doors closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms in each room so when one sounds, they all sound. Install a new battery in all conventional alarms at least once a year. Test your alarm at least once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.  
  • Include everyone in your home and make a home escape plan, making provisions for anyone who has a disability. Practice your plan at least twice a year.

Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm

Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It's inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Each year in America, carbon monoxide poisoning claims approximately 480 lives and sends another 15,200 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.1 USFA would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Please read and follow the safety tips contained in the factsheets on this page.

Prevent Electrical Fires

Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.

Use Appliances Wisely

When using appliances follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.

Alternate Heaters

  • Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
  • Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers

When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable - they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

Plan Your Escape

Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.

Caring for Children

Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Tragically, children set over 20,000 house fires every year. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Caring for Older People

Every year over 1,200 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can't respond quickly.

For More Information Contact:

The United States Fire Administration
National Fire Programs Division
16825 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727

Or visit the USFA Web site: www.usfa.fema.gov

Information for this fact sheet was provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department

450 Solomons Island Rd South / P.O. Box 976 

 Prince Frederick, Maryland 20678

Phone : 410-535-9875 - Fax : 410-414-3655 - E-mail : princefrederickvolunteers@yahoo.com