Modern technology reduces holiday fire risks

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


Christmas and the holiday season is safer these days.

Although Mt. Pleasant Fire Chief Stewart Kinney didn?t exactly say it in so many words, he acknowledged that today?s holidays don?t have as many fire risks as yesterday?s Christmases.

One of the major reasons is that most holiday lights today are LED. ?They are a lot less susceptible to fire, don?t use as much voltage and are a step in the right direction,? Kinney said.

He also noted that the popularity of artificial trees over live Christmas trees has reduced another fire risk.

Other safety steps that can be taken, Kinney said, is not running extension cords under carpet or rugs; be aware of exposed extension cords; and don?t overload circuits.

The fire chief said he hasn?t noticed a spike in fires during the holiday season and said wood-burning stoves cause more winter fires than Christmas decorations.

?The problem with wood-burning stoves is that they don?t have them cleaned out,? he said. ?You also have to make sure the stove has a good, clean flue.?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 30 percent of home fires in the U.S. and 38 percent of home fire deaths occur in December, January and February.

Following are some holiday safety tips from the website

Cooking ? The most common culprit is food left unattended. It is easy to be distracted when cooking, so if you do leave the kitchen, take a potholder with you as a reminder that something is left on the stove. Make sure to have a working fire extinguisher and a smoke detector in the kitchen.

Candles ? Incidence of candle fires is four times greater than in other month. To reduce the danger of fire, maintain one foot of space between candles and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases and cover with hurricane globes. Never leave candles unattended and extinguish before going to bed. Consider using flameless LED candles.

Decorative lights ? Inspect light stings and throw out any with cracked, frayed wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don?t run more than three strings of lights from end to end. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL rated. When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails and staples. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers.