Holidays Increase Residential Fire Risks in South Florida

Each year, there are close to 200,000 fires in the U.S. that happen during the winter season.

These fires take the lives of close to 650 people, injure another 2,600 and cost close to $940 million in property damage. According to Florida Atlantic University (FAU), about 47,000 of these fires occur in residential areas. They kill more than 500 people, injure another 2,000 and cause more than $550 million in property damage.

Our Boca Raton personal injury attorneys understand that many homes, businesses and other public areas are decorated with electrical lights, banners, seasonal garlands. But one of the most common of decorations, and the most significant fire hazard, is the Christmas tree.

The truth of the matter is that holiday fires are more severe. These fires have more losses, about 2 percent more than ordinary fires. Fires in residential structures are the most serious. They’re also the most costly, averaging about three times more in terms of dollar loss.

We’re not only talking to residents, but we’re also talking to landlords as well as condo and apartment complexes. These facilities should look at their fire safety plan. There may need to be stricter rules and regulations to help to keep the holiday decorations and tenants safe. When individuals live in such close quarters, fires can spread quickly from home to home.

Decorations are a top cause, too. Decorations cause about 350 residential structure fires each holiday season. That’s about 9 a day.

Candles are also a frequent culprit. More than 1,500 residential structure fires are cause by candle fires each winter holiday season.

To help to put a stop to these risks, officials with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are here to offer you some winter holiday fire safety tips:

-Be cautious when putting up your holiday decorations. Your best bet is to choose decorations that are flame resistant.

-Keep candles away from decorations and other flammable objects.

-Check the labels on lights to make sure they were tested at a facility, such as UL or ETL, and follow manufacturer’s instructions for use.

-When possible, use fake candles, or the ones with “flames” that are powered by batteries. There’s no fire involved there.

-Make sure all lights are tested before use.

-Make sure that you blow out all candles before leaving the house or going to sleep.

-Consider setting timers on your exterior holiday lights. This way they’re sure to go off when you leave your home or when you go to bed.

-Never connect more than 3 strands of lights together unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer.

-Don’t place any of your decorations near doors, windows or exits.

-When hanging lights, use clips instead of nails so you don’t damage the cords.

-Make sure your tree is well-hydrated. Dry trees come with higher risks for fires.