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Ho-Ho-Holiday Fire Safety

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Foster
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
For most, the holidays are filled with family, food, fun, and fire. Yes, fire, in a bad way. Statistically, more home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year.

Thanksgiving can be a time for reflecting and reminiscing. For the fire department, Thanksgiving is literally the busiest day of the year for home cooking fires across the U.S.

Joseph Michael, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Prevention assistant chief, encourages everyone to use common sense during these peak times of the year for the fire department.

“The biggest problem is unattended cooking,” Michael said.

The National Fire Prevention Association is a resource that Michael and the Cannon Fire Department use for key messaging. Many of their messages line up together: ‘keep an eye on what you fry, be alert when cooking, and keep things that can catch fire away from the cooking area.’

One of Michaels’s primary duties is to educate the public on fire safety. In comparison to all of the U.S., Cannon home fires are below average. Michael says that is likely due to a captive audience, a natural occurrence on most military installations.

Remain vigilant however, Thanksgiving is only the beginning when it comes to fire hazards during the holiday season. From 2009-2013 the NFPA reported that December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11 percent of home candle fires began with decorations compared to four percent the rest of the year.
For those that celebrate the holidays with modern lights, electrical fires can become an issue.

“When it comes to lighting systems, there are two main companies that approve and list electrical appliances,” says Michael. “Those two companies are Factory Mutual Research and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Ensure that one of those two stamps of approval are present on your holiday lights, otherwise there is a potential for shock hazards which could lead to a fire.”

Festive holiday lights are a staple in most homes during this time of year, and so are live Christmas trees, which can present other hazards.

“When you buy it, you need to cut at least an inch off of the base of the trunk of the tree and keep it in water,” Michael said.

Cutting that extra inch off of the base, he explains, allows the tree to be able to soak up more water. A properly watered Christmas tree will last two to three weeks.

A live Christmas tree gives telltale signs of when it’s too old.

“If you bump it and the needles fall, that’s telling you that it’s time to get rid of the tree,” Michael said.

Know and be prepared to dial the proper emergency numbers. If the emergency is on base, dialing 911 from a landline will connect you directly to the Cannon Fire Department. However, dialing 911 from a cell phone will connect you to the Clovis Fire department, which is over seven miles away from base housing. Ensure the dispatcher immediately knows the location of the emergency, they can transfer the call to the nearest emergency services.

Knowledge and preparation are crucial to staying safe during the holidays.