Cooking among top causes of holiday fires - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cooking among top causes of holiday fires

(KFVS) -

Faulty wiring or bad Christmas lights aren't the only way you can get burned over the holiday season. According to the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA), Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are respectively, second and third only to Thanksgiving for home cooking fires.

The IFSA says cooking is the leading cause of structure fires and injuries, and is the third leading cause of home fire deaths. The IFSA offers these holiday cooking safety tips in light of those statistics:

  • Do not cook when tired.
  • Do not leave food unattended while cooking.
  • Do not use water to put out grease fires.
  • Prevent scald burns to children by turning pot handles inward on the stove top; create a three foot, child-free zone around the stove.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.

Candle and decoration fires also peak in December. Nearly half of all holiday decoration fires occur because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. The IFSA says never leave candles unattended and place them on flat, heat-resistant surfaces at least a foot away from anything that can burn. Experts recommend battery-operated candles as a safer alternative.

Christmas tree fires, while not common, tend to be very serious when they do occur.  The IFSA offers these tips to avoid such fires:

  • Choose live trees that are fresh & green with needles that are difficult to remove.
  • Keep live trees well watered and away from heat sources that can dry them out.
  • Live trees should be disposed of shortly after Christmas.
  • Tree lights should be turned off overnight and when you leave home.

The IFSA says electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in nearly two-thirds of fires involving holiday or decorative lights. Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords, and experts recommend replacing or repairing damaged cords. In addition, avoid placing extension cords across doorways or under carpets.

"Unfortunately, fire and burn prevention measures are often overlooked during the holiday season," said IFSA Director Philip Zaleski. "But statistics prove we should be even more attentive to fire safety during this time."

The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance is a non-profit organization that promotes fire safety, burn prevention and hosts a variety of support programs for burn victims.

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