As you prepare to celebrate the holidays, the Pflugerville Fire Department encourages you to put safety at the top of the gift list.
This time of year people can often become rushed, distracted or tired — which all make home fires more likely to happen. Follow these tips to help keep your family and visitors safe this holiday season.
Stay with the stove. Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day of the year for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. Remember to always stay with the stove whenever you are using it, and never leave the house with the oven on (turkey, anyone?).
Keep the handles of your pots and pans turned back away from the edge of the stove so they aren’t knocked or pulled down. Always keep the area around the stove completely clear of flammable items like hot pads, paper towels, cookbooks and decorations.
Reduce the risk of turkey fryers. Turkey fryers are risky because they use a lot of cooking oil at high temperatures. Hot oil can be released during cooking, and the burners can ignite spilled oil. If you decide to fry, remember to not to overfill the pot with oil, choose a smaller turkey (10 pounds or less), and ensure it’s completely thawed and patted dry before cooking. Only fry on a flat surface in a well ventilated, outdoor area.
Caution with candles. Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily. Better yet, use flameless, battery operated candles.
Keep candles at least 1 foot from anything that can burn like decorations, towels and curtains. Never leave children or pets alone in a room with a lit candle. Always blow out all candles when headed to sleep or leaving home.
Add water daily to trees. When shopping for a real Christmas tree, look for one with fresh, vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t easily break from the branches. It shouldn’t be shedding any needles when you buy it.
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1 to 2 inches from the base of the trunk. Position it away from exits and at least 3 feet away from any heat source, and remember to add water every day to the tree stand. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving your house or going to sleep.
Light it right. Look on the manufacturer’s label or box to check if the lights are designed for indoor or outdoor use. Only use outdoor-approved lights outside, and only use outdoor lights on a real Christmas tree, even if it’s indoors.
Follow the instructions for the maximum number of light strands to connect. Replace any strand with a frayed cord or loose bulb connections. When hanging up lights, use clips (not nails) to help prevent cord damage, and work with a partner if you have to get on a ladder.
Stay warm safely. Before you curl up with a good book by the fire, be sure to get your chimneys cleaned by a professional and your heating equipment inspected every year. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from portable space heaters and fireplaces.
Ensure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop any sparks from flying into the room. If you have any type of fuel-burning equipment for heating or cooking in your home, you should install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home to help prevent CO poisoning. Never, ever use an oven to heat a home.
Test alarms monthly. If a fire does start, the lives of your family and visitors may rely on a smoke alarm to alert you in time to escape safely. Remember to push the test button on all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms every month, replace alkaline batteries at least once a year and replace any alarm older than 10 years.
For more information on alarms, visit the Fire Department’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage at PflugervilleFire.org/faq, or call their non-emergency Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Hotline at 512-251-2801. Messages are usually returned the next business day.