It seems that during the months of December through Feb are when the most house fires are recorded. Christmas being the highest of these. Candles and lights are the number one cause of the fires. Christmas trees can light up like a roman candle if not handled properly. Christmas trees burn with intensity, although it is short-lived, it can cause devastating property damage and may cause loss of life.
Christmas tree fires have resulted in 260 Home fires, resulting in 24 injuries, 12 deaths and 16 million in property damage. Christmas trees and decorations result in twice the injuries and 5 times more fatalities per fire than the average holiday fire. Make sure to keep your natural Christmas tree hydrated and water it daily. A dry Christmas tree with lights, giving off heat, is a disaster waiting to happen. Keep Animals and pets away from your tree. Our cat likes to chew on our Christmas Tree and has bitten the wires that run the lights.
Leading causes of Christmas tree fires
Lighting and electrical distribution where involved in 45% of Christmas tree fires.
- 17% were a result of lights
- 15% -related to wiring or equipment related to wiring
- 7% – cords, plugs or extension cords
- 6%-Lighting , lamps and bulbs
- Around 15% of Christmas Tree Fires was intentionally set
- Candles resulted in around 7% of Xmas tree fires
- Heating equipment such as a space heater was responsible for 13 % of Christmas tree fires.
- 22% of Christmas tree fires were caused by a heat source, such as a heater, candle was placed to close to the tree, igniting it.
- 7% of fires were a result of open fires or fire pits
Electrical malfunctions accounted for 31% of Christmas tree fires within the house. Electrical malfunctions of equipment used in lighting. Such as, extension cords, power distribution blocks, etc
Christmas Lights and extension cords
- Use lights that have been tested by a recognized testing laboratory such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories). Indoor and outdoor lights must meet strict testing requirements. On indoor and outdoor use, lights have a UL red holographic label. Green holographic labels are for indoor use only
- Throw away damaged light strands. Lights are fairly reasonable, don’t try to squeeze an extra year out of 10-year-old lights.
- Check each extension cord. Make sure each extension cord is rated for the intended use and is in good condition. Do not use cords with cuts or signs of fraying.
- Make sure to use GFCI outlets for all light strands and holiday lights.
It is estimated that there are about 4000 injuries associated with extension cords. These are injuries only treated at the ER. 50% of these injuries involved broken bones, burns, sprains, bruises, and lacerations. 13% of these involved children less than five years of age, the most common injury is burning to the mouth in young children.
- After opening all those presents you are going to have a ton of wrapping paper leftover if you were on the nice list, don’t throw wrapping paper in the fireplace and burn it. Wrapping paper can burn quickly and intensely.
- Keep your Christmas Tree away from the fireplace. When a Christmas Tree Catches fire it is almost impossible to put it out before it burns up. It burns extremely quickly and with great intensity. It can catch other items or structures on fire in the near vicinity of the tree
Candles started around 45% of fires during the holiday season. Make sure to put candles out if you are not at home. Small children should be watched and warned about candles and the burns that they can cause. Candles should be kept away from flammable items. December is the peak month for candle fires.
Falls and injuries caused by hanging lights
- Make sure all Fire alarms and smoke detectors are in good working order
- Do not overload outlets
- Do not use electronics near water
- Do not let your children sleep with electronics under their pillows or blankets
- Keep decorations and Christmas trees at least 3 feet from an open flame, such as a candle or a fireplace
- Keep batteries in a safe place away from young children
- Do not leave space heaters unattended when in use
- Turn off Christmas lights before bedtime
- Discard any damaged Christmas Lights or decorations
- Don’t run extension cords under rugs, carpet, furniture, or out windows
- Keep pets away from Christmas Trees and lights if they like to chew on things
Fried Turkey Accidents
There is nothing better than good fried turkey for Christmas dinner or for thanksgiving. If you don’t know what you are doing, it can be a disaster. According to the NFPA Turkey fryer fires cause the destruction of 900 homes, 60 injuries, and 5 deaths. Turkey fryer fires caused over 15 million dollars in property damage.
What States lead in most Turkey Disasters?
These are cooking-related insurance claims according to State Farm
- South Carolina-16
Turkey Fryers can be dangerous because of the oil and the amount that is used. If you have never fried a turkey, I highly recommended you do, but make sure you know what you are doing first. Many accidents are caused from people dropping the turkey in too fast or putting a half thawed turkey into 325 degree peanut oil; this usually never ends well.
Alcohol related Accidents stats during the Holiday
Losing someone during the holidays can be extremely painful. Every year when the holiday comes and goes, it is a reminder of that painful event. Your friend or a loved one did not die of cancer, or a heart attack, they died in a car accident during a time when family and friends come together and celebrate. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the leading causes of auto accident injuries and deaths in the United States during the Holidays.
Thanksgiving Holiday Period
Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled weekend in the United States. DUI arrest is at its highest between the Thanksgiving weekend and new years. The eve before Thanksgiving, otherwise known as black Wednesday, is the busiest time of the year for bars. More high volumes of alcohol are consumed in this period ( binge drinking). Thanksgiving is a little easier to keep accident data on because it falls on the same day every year.
For the Thanksgiving holiday period, fatalities rose 42% on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Fatalities were normal on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday following the holiday. It is estimated by NTSB that there will be 437 traffic fatalities from crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period for the 2015 thanksgiving period. The number of people traveling is at its highest on this day, combined with the number of people binge drinking does not make for safe travels.
Thanksgiving Nonfatal injuries
Nonfatal injuries are defined as injuries that are serious enough to seek medical care. The estimated number of injuries this year (2016) is between 44,100 and 57,200 for the Thanksgiving holiday period.
Christmas falls on different days on the week so data may be higher or lower from year to year. More travelers on the road can always lead to more accidents. 41% of all Christmas Holiday Accidents involve alcohol. Christmas day accidents are minimal compared to Christmas eve. During Christmas day, most people are spending time with family and friends. Christmas Eve parties and consuming alcohol lead to higher DUI arrest and auto accidents.
259 to 362 traffic deaths
Christmas Holiday Injuries
The estimate of the number of nonfatal injuries that will result from crashes during the Christmas holiday period is 37,200 with a range of 31,300 to 43,700.
New Year’s Holiday
71% of New Year’s accidents are alcohol and drug-related. You have more of a chance getting into an accident between the hours of 6 PM December 31st and 6 AM January 1 during the New Year Holiday. January 1st had the highest number of alcohol-related accident deaths than any other holiday.
Fatalities During New Years
New Year period estimate: 367 to 481 traffic deaths.
Non-fatal Accident Injuries during New Years
The number of nonfatal injuries that will result from crashes during the New Year holiday period is 45,000 with a range of 39,300 to 51,400 How you can make a difference during the holiday season.
- Call the police if you suspect someone of drunk driving
- Call a friend or family member to take you home
- Spend the night at a friend or family member.
- Never allow someone who has been drinking heavily to get in the driver’s seat of a vehicle.
- When hosting a party, be responsible and help guests arrange transportation. Hosts could be held responsible if someone leaves their home and kills or hurts someone in an alcohol-related collision.
- Never ride with someone else who has been drinking.
- If hosting a party, take everyone’s keys
- Call Uber
- Make everyone submit to a breathalyzer before they can get their keys back
The holidays should be a time for celebrating good memories, not bad ones. We can all do something to make this holiday a little safer for us and others. The stats we used were from 2015. Accident data does not come available for 1-2 years.
Christmas is a season that is a festive, eventful, and memories are made. Keep safety in mind this year with your friends and family over the holidays. Make your Christmas and Holiday memories wonderful, not the other way around.