Wednesday’s horrific fire that destroyed a family in Brooklyn is a terrible reminder that joy can turn to tragedy in an instant. Fire safety is an important imperative that should always be part of our holiday preparations and observance. According to the National Fire Prevention Bureau, thousands of fire deaths occur during Christmas and Chanukah that are preventable by simply following some basic fire safety principles.
- First and foremost – make sure that you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home. For more information about where and how to install them, see this link http://www.lawrence-cedarhurstfd.org/smoke_alarms_and_detectors.php. Now is a good time to replace the batteries and test your devices.
- Never leave a burning candle or flame unattended. Leaving your home, going to bed, or simply leaving the room where candles and/or Menorahs are lit and out of view, is dangerous.
- Never light candles or a Menorah near flammable objects, such as curtains, carpeting, tablecloths or paper holiday decorations or displays.
- Always place a lit candle or Menorah on a flameproof object, such as a metal plate or a baking sheet. A sheet of aluminum foil covering a tablecloth will stop messy drips but will not prevent a fire.
- Ask yourself “What could happen if the candle tips over or falls?” It will help you assess the safety of the situation and make you aware of the precautions you should take.
- Keep a small fire extinguisher or fire blanket nearby. It is the safest and fastest way to extinguish a small fire. If a fire occurs, first get everyone out of the house to a safe distance, and then call 911. Running back into a burning home to save your “priceless” possessions is not worth the risk. Your most “priceless” possessions are standing in the street next to you.
- Children get very excited and animated during holiday celebrations. While we want the enthusiasm, running and jumping near lit candles can accidentally cause them to fall and start a house fire.
- Don’t overload electrical circuits. If the circuit breaker pops, don’t simply reset it. Reduce the load on that circuit (unplug some of the decorations) and then reset the breaker.
- Never run extension cords under carpets, tree skirts or furniture. Remember that extension cords are potential trip hazards and well as a common source of fires.
- Do not overload extension cords by chaining them together or installing cube taps. They are not designed to carry that much current.
- Using LED light sets reduces the electrical load. In addition, they run cooler and there is less risk of having a hot bulb touch a dry tree branch and igniting a fire.
- Unplug all your decorations and indoor holiday lights when you leave home or go to sleep.
- Preparing to bring a live tree into your home? If so, choose one full of green needles that don’t fall off when you touch them and are difficult to pull from the branches. To keep the tree fresh, you must water it daily.
- The Lawrence Cedarhurst Fire Department offers some more holiday safety suggestions at this link. http://www.lawrence-cedarhurstfd.org/holiday_safety.php
- Download a printable version and pack away with your holiday decorations and Menorah as a reminder for next year.
Mayor Benjamin Weinstock, the Village Board of Trustees, and the entire Village Family wish everyone a joyous and safe holiday season.