The Times 

Walla Walla Fire Department asks residents to be mindful of fire safety as Christmas approaches


December 9, 2021

WALLA WALLA—The number of structure fires tends to increase nationwide during the holiday season. This upsurge, typically starting around Thanksgiving and stretching through Christmas and to the new year, is due to unintentional and mostly avoidable accidents.

For many people, holiday decorations include a Christmas tree, candles and/or electrical components, including lights and extension cords. For residents celebrating and decorating during this holiday season, the Walla Walla Fire Department would like to remind you to take steps to ensure the safety of your home and family.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind as you decorate and celebrate this season:

Remember to water your Christmas tree every day — they drink a lot!

Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source.

Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations when stringing light strands together. Typically, three is the maximum.

Always turn decorative lights off when you leave your residence or go to bed.

Keep lit candles away from combustible materials, and don’t leave them unattended.

Always blow your candles out before you leave your residence or go to bed.

Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking on the stovetop, and keep decorations away from cooking equipment.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees every year between 2013 and 2017. On average, one of every 52 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 135 total reported home fires.

Here are additional statistics from NFPA about fires during the holiday season:

Electrical-distribution or lighting equipment were involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires between 2013-2017.

Roughly three-quarters of Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January.

In one-quarter (25%) of the Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source, such as a candle or electrical equipment, was too close to the tree.

Nearly two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.

Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

Cooking equipment was involved in one of every five (19%) home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is put on or too close to a stove or other cooking device.

One-fifth (20%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December. This is the peak month for home candle fires; the top two days are Christmas and Christmas Eve.

An average of 7,900 home candle fires were reported each year between 2013-2017.

Three of every five (60%) candle fires started when something that could burn — such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains or decorations — was too close to the candle.

Eighteen percent of December candle fires started in the living room and 8% started in the \dining room, compared to 14% and 3% for those areas during the rest of the year.

Ten percent of fireworks fires occur during the period from Dec. 30-Jan. 3, with the peak on New Year’s Day.


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