Statistics highlight the need for preparation, caution in holiday decorating

Lights, candles, action ˆ it‚s the holiday season again. Brightly lighted decorations, elaborate meals and large gatherings are all part of traditional holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, local SERVPRO® restoration specialists know that these seasonal traditions also cause an average of 230 home fires each year, with an average of 4 deaths, 21 injuries and $17.3 million in property damage.

“Christmas tree lights and candles are just two of the holiday traditions that increase the likelihood of a fire starting in your home,” says Rick Isaacson, Executive Vice President of Servpro Industries, Inc. “There are about three times as many cooking-related fires on Thanksgiving Day and almost twice as many on Christmas Day as there are on non-holidays. It only takes a single distracted or careless action to turn a family get-together into a tragedy.”

SERVPRO® professionals in the Louisville area say that homeowners can help keep their homes and their families safe during the holiday season by understanding the dangers and taking some simple, commonsense precautions.

Holiday Cooking Fire Facts

* Thanksgiving Day has three times the average number of reported home structure fires involving cooking equipment.

* The two other peak days for cooking-related fires are Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

Holiday Cooking Safety Tips

* Supervise items on the stovetop. Fifty-eight percent of kitchen fires involve ranges; homes with electric cooktops have a higher risk of fire than homes with gas cooktops.

* Keep flammable items ˆ potholders, packaging, wrapping, wooden utensils, loose clothing ˆ away from the stovetop.

* Don‚t let lack of sleep or alcohol consumption affect your ability to concentrate on preparing the meal.

Holiday Decorating Fire Facts

* Half of all holiday decoration fires start because the decoration is too close to a heat source.

* On average, 32 candle fires are reported each day. December is the peak month for candle fires.

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips:

* Keep all decorations away from heat sources like radiators, portable heaters, and fireplaces.

* Use flameless candles.

* If you do use traditional candles, burn them in sturdy candleholders, well away from drapes and other flammable materials. Never leave them unattended and never allow them to burn down to less than one inch in length.

Christmas Tree Fire Facts:

* 50% of live tree fires occur between December 22 and January 5.

* 31% of tree fires are caused by electrical problems.

* 14% involve decorative lights.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips:

* Keep live trees well watered to reduce the chance of a fire.

* Check wiring on lights for breaks and wear, replace worn strings and don‚t

exceed manufacturer guidelines for connecting multiple strands of lights.

* Don‚t leave tree lights plugged in when you are away from home or asleep.

“We hope these tips will be a reminder to Louisville area families to make mfire prevention a priority in their holiday preparations,” said Isaacson, “so they can spend the season enjoying family and friends, not dealing with the aftermath of a fire.”