Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare

This Holiday Season; Prevent Tree and Candle Fires

card with Christmas treeOver the weekend, an Oklahoma family suffered a house fire which originated in their living room and was reportedly caused by a live Christmas tree. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the bulk of the damage was caused by smoke. However, not everyone is so lucky. The NFPA reports that, across the country, fire departments respond to an average of 230 home fires which start with Christmas trees.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve blogged about a myriad of holiday safety issues. This week, we would like to turn our attention to two of the most flammable holiday decorations—Christmas trees and candles. This post makes me glad I don’t have room for either in my doghouse.

NFPA Facts about Home Holiday Fires

  • Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually.
  • One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are likely to be serious.
  • On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of Christmas tree fires. Don’t set up a space heater near your tree!
  • Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. That’s why I would never decorate our doghouse the way Snoopy did on “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.”
  • Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.

Tree Fire Safety

  • Purchase only fresh trees. If needles are brittle or shed easily, choose a different tree. (Maybe it’s me; but live trees seem to be more decorative than brown, dead ones.)
  • When setting up the tree at home, place it at least three feet away from any heat source.
  • Steer clear of the fireplace, radiators, heating vents and lighting. These can dry out a tree and increase flammability.
  • Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. If you have a dog, this might be a difficult task to stay on top of. Nothing like cold, fresh tree water.
  • Don’t leave the tree up for an extended period. Fire safety professionals recommend you do not leave it up for longer than two weeks.
  • When you dismantle the tree, discard it immediately. Do not leave it in a garage, on a porch or at the side of the house. A dried-out tree is highly flammable and can cause major damage even when it is just sitting outside, not to mention it’s an eyesore. Check with your local community for a recycling program.

 Candle Fire Safety

  • Candles cause home fires — and home fire deaths.
  • A candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.
  • More than half (56%) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch fire is too close to the candle. So don’t put hay near the Menorah.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.
  • Extinguish candles when you leave the room or go to bed. If you aren’t there to enjoy them, what’s the point anyway?
  • Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  • Think about using flameless candles in your home.
  • If you decide to burn candles, make sure that you:
  •  Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
  • Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles carefully.
  • Keep hair, fur and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.\Don’t use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage.

Religious Candle Safety

  • Whether you are using one candle, or more than one on a candelabra, kinara, or menorah, make sure you take a few moments to learn about using candles safely.
  • Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder.
  • Handheld candles should never be passed from one person to another.
  • When lighting candles at a candle lighting service, have the person with the unlit candle dip their candle into the flame of the lit candle.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
  • Candles placed on, or near tables, altars, or shrines, must be watched by an adult.
  • If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed in a sink, on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, High-Rise Buildings, Vaccinations, Version 2.5

How to Celebrate National Fire Safety Month

RJW is proud to feature a blog about Natioinal Fire Prevention Month.

October 9-15 is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) official “Fire Prevention Week,” which is an annual event that promotes fire safety for families and businesses. This works out perfectly for me, as “National Chew on Furniture Week” is October 16-21. So I still have time to get my chompers ready.

Fire Prevention Week was created to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. During the 40th anniversary of that tragic event, the Fire Marshals Association of North America began the first National Fire Prevention Day. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first official National Fire Prevention Week and called up a massive change in fire-prevention planning.

According to the NFPA, a home structure fire was reported every 87 seconds in 2009, and nearly seven people died each day in those blazes. The economic toll from residential and business fire is vast, with $7.6 billion in losses recorded in 2009. However, through educational efforts such as National Fire Prevention Week, the occurrence of fires has dropped drastically over the years, from more than 700,000 house fires in 1977 to 370,000 in 2010.

Every year the NFPA selects a theme for National Fire Prevention Week. The theme for 2011 is “Protect your family from fire,” and focuses on coordinated efforts for family members and teachers. Here are a few of the themes from past years:

  • “The Nation’s Greatest Menace! Do Your Part to Stop This Waste!” (1929)
  • “Learn Not To Burn – Wherever You Are” (1982)
  • “Give your dog two pounds of New York Strip every night to keep his coat shiny” (1994—well, that was my suggestion, anyway.)
  •  “Use Candles with Care” (2005)

Fire Prevention Week activities at schools and other organizations focus on preparedness in several key areas:

  • Establishment and practicing sensible escape routes with designated alternates
  • Inspection and care of home smoke detectors
  • Information about home sprinkler systems and their ability to stop fires within minutes
  • Dangers associated with fires from heating appliances, fireplaces, and stoves
  • Special emphasis on smokers and the acute risk of fire from un-extinguished cigarettes.
  • Candle care and safety. (I am extra careful with candles in the doghouse. Since I’m a working firedog, sometimes I need to relax and have some quiet meditation!)

For businesses, fire safety should be a 52-week focus, not just one that is observed during Fire Prevention Week. Business and facility management can take many steps to reduce the risk of fire:

  • Create a sound fire plan that includes evacuation routes, designated fire wardens and procedures to account for every employee and visitor during a fire emergency.
  • Install and inspect to make sure the right classes of fire extinguishers are located in code-required locations. I have one in the doghouse, but no opposable thumbs!!
  • Implement clear rules on the use of space heaters and other portable devices that can pose safety hazards.
  • Encourage employees to report dangerous situations. Give them the opportunity to reach your building manager confidentiality if they need to report a sensitive issue.

Fire Safety Week is an ideal chance for individuals and businesses to reflect on what they can do to keep people and property protected from fire. Practicing common sense and building a knowledge base about fire are the best ways for people to avoid tragedy.

My friends at RJWestmore are covering more than 300 million square feet of commercial property through their own Fire Life Safety Training System which ensures compliance with related fire codes. It is an interactive e-learning system that provides tenants, building owners, and facility managers with instant feedback.

Convenient and affordable for businesses of any size, the RJWestmore Fire Life Safety Training System can reduce training workloads by 90 percent while saving more than 50 percent when compared to conventional training methods. Proper training and code compliance can greatly reduce your liability in the event of a disaster. Personally, I always follow codes. My doghouse even has anchor bolts in case of an earthquake!

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.