Special to the Parade
Nobody wants the chimney coming down on old St. Nick as he makes his down to deliver fabulous gifts. Even worse would be if the tree lights short-circuited and presents were damaged. Ensuring your winter wonderland stays intact this winter could be easier than you think.
Slight improvements to your habits and your home could prevent costly repairs and high electricity bills while keeping spirits high and attitudes jolly.
Winter rain and wind can wreak havoc on exterior decorations, particularly lights. Although it might seem easier to blame the elves and curse the holiday, it’s a good idea to always check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
Dreams of sugar plums dancing should never be disturbed with the smell of smoke. Let’s leave that sizzle for that fabulous Christmas outfit that’s a size smaller than you were last year.
When leaving the house or going to sleep, make sure to turn off decorative lights as they might short and start a fire. Do not use electric lights on metallic trees.
Often times, the Christmas tree is the center piece of an interior holiday décor, but they account for 250 fires annually, resulting in 14 deaths, 26 injuries and more than $13.8 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Most of the fires start when electrical lights short or when open flames from candles, lighters or matches come into contact with dry needles.
“The most important things to remember are to buy a tree that’s fresh and to keep it watered,” said Richard Hodge with Mister Sparky, a home services company. “Keep the tree away from candles, radiators and fireplaces.”
Cooking fires, however, continue to be the most common fires during the holidays. Practicing safe cooking behavior can minimize the hazard and keep bellies full and happy.
When leaving the kitchen, even if it’s for a very short time, remember to turn off the stove. Use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
Keep items such as potholders, oven mitts and matches away from the stovetop. If a grease fire starts, smother the flames by carefully sliding over the lid over the pan. Do not move the pan.
CPL Retail Energy and its affiliates, One Hour Heating and Colling and Mister Sparky Electrical, offer the following advice to Texans for keeping safe this holiday season:
• Avoid using candles and never go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, matches or lighters.
• Ensure that trees and other decorations do not block an exit.
• Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace as it can result in a very large fire.
• Do not leave holiday lights unattended.
• Stay alert when cooking. Use a timer to remind you.
• Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cords for cooking appliances.
• In the case of an oven fire, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed until the fire is completely out.
• Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
• Heat food in containers that are marked “microwave safe.” Make sure you stir the food and test it before eating.
• According to the Department of Energy, children under five are at a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking than of being burned in a cooking fire. Never hold a child while cooking, drinking or carrying hot foods or liquids.