OKEECHOBEE — In a year when large holiday gatherings may not be possible, the fire damage restoration specialists with SERVPRO in the Okeechobee area say that a focus on family decorating traditions and more intimate celebrations may take on extra significance.
“It’s as important to keep safety top of mind with a small family gathering as it is with a large holiday party,” said Rick Isaacson, CEO of Servpro Industries LLC. “We all enjoy bringing the glow of the holiday season to our homes with Christmas trees or menorahs and candlelight, but these statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration show how easy it is for home decorating to turn into a home disaster.”
• The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve.
• More than half of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles.
• A heat source too close to the Christmas tree causes one in every four winter fires.
• On average, one of every 52 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in death.
In addition to exercising caution with candles and heat sources, it is important to follow manufacturers’ guidelines for holiday lighting, said Isaacson. “According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires. Though Christmas tree fires may not be common, they can be devastating to more than the house itself. They can destroy irreplaceable photos, mementos and family heirlooms, and even cost lives,” he said. “To help keep your holidays bright and your home and family safe, use common sense with candles and tree placement, and follow these important home decorating guidelines.”
• Use only decorations that are flame-retardant or not flammable.
• Check holiday lights each year for frayed wires or excessive wear.
• Don’t link more than three strands of holiday lights.
“In a year when so many of the things we take for granted have changed, we know people will still come together — in person or virtually — to celebrate family and holiday traditions,” said Isaacson. “‘Stay safe’ has become a common expression in the context of public health, but this holiday season, we urge all Okeechobee-area home and business owners to think about ‘staying safe’ in their homes as they prepare for and enjoy the holiday season.”