By JULIANA DEMAREST  |  Moonshine Ink

Fire prevention is not taken lightly during parched summer months. As winter snows start to fall, however, thoughts on the matter fade away. But are you aware the holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of year for residential fires? In winter the greatest threat typically comes from within the home and spikes during the holiday season. Be sure your home has functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. For additional safety tips, visit usfa.fema.gov/winter or fire.ca.gov.

CHRISTMAS TREES

Did you know that if a dry tree were to catch fire, it would take all of 30 seconds to fully engulf a room in flames? First and foremost, fresh cut trees should never be placed close to any heat source. Same goes for artificial varieties, which should be flame resistant/retardant. Second, a well-watered tree is a safer tree. The base of your live tree should be cut at a 45-degree angle and immediately placed in water. Fill it daily and never let the water go below the trunk base. Even a regularly watered tree will start to dry out after a few weeks; discard it immediately after the holidays.

LIGHTING AND DECORATIONS

Be sure to use only UL-rated lights and inspect the strings annually. Throw out those with frayed or cracked wires. Connect no more than three sets together (unless product information states otherwise) and do not overload power outlets by using additional adaptors for more than two appliances. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one of every four Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Never leave a lit tree unattended.

CANDLES

The USFA lists the top three days of the year for candle fires as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Candles start two out of every five home decoration blazes. Gone are the days of lighting evergreen boughs with real candles. Cal Fire recommends using flameless LED in place of traditional open flame wax styles.

HEATING

Space heaters should not be on or near flammable surfaces. Turn them off when leaving the room. Indoor use of kerosene heaters is prohibited, according to Cal Fire. Chimneys, stove pipes, and furnaces should be inspected and cleaned annually by a professional. It’s also important that outdoor propane tanks, valves, and heating vents are cleared of snow.

COOKING

According to the USFA, cooking is the leading cause of holiday fires, due to food being left unattended. With all the festive hoopla taking place, it is easy to become distracted as soon as you walk out of the kitchen. Houselogic.com suggests taking a pot holder with you when you leave the room as a reminder that something’s cooking. Be sure to have a functioning, maintained fire extinguisher nearby.