Officials stress safety during the holidays
With lighting for a Christmas tree cited as the source of a house fire this week, the Cape Coral Fire Department is urging the public to stay vigilant about fire safety, especially during the holidays.
At 6:37 p.m. Tuesday, emergency dispatch received a call about a house fire in the 2700 block of Southwest 22nd Ave. Upon arrival, firefighters observed smoke in the home. The fire was extinguished by 6:49 p.m.
According to officials, investigators determined that the fire was accidental in nature. It started in the living room around an electrical extension cord/surge protector placed under a live Christmas tree.
The fire caused $75,000 in damages, and the city’s building inspector red-tagged the house.
The American Red Cross assisted the two adult occupants with housing arrangements.
Officials explained that during this time of year, fire safety is something to take into special consideration.
“A lot if it has to do with how busy we are during the holidays. Safety kind of becomes an afterthought,” Andrea Schuch, CCFD spokeswoman, said. “Sometimes we need a little reminder.”
Some of the busiest days for fire departments are Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“The biggest one always is cooking fires,” she said. “We just like to remind people, if you’re frying, grilling or broiling to never leave the kitchen, stay in the kitchen.”
Also remain in the kitchen when using the stovetop.
“If baking or roasting you want to stay in the house,” Schuch said. “In case something does happen, you’re there to address it.”
There should also be a kids-free zone around the stove of at least 3 feet.
Candles are another point of concern in terms of safety.
“Definitely, because we start using candles to decorate,” she said. “Just make sure the candles are at least a foot away from any decoration or combustable material and that they’re on a sturdy stand.”
Schuch recommended using shorter fatter candles because the bases tend to be studier.
“Holiday lights and decorations are always a concern because you’re going to be using more electricity,” she said. “You’re going to have more plugs and outlets.”
Make sure not to overload your home’s circuits.
Using flame-resistant or flame-retardant decorations can also help to deter fires.
“And you want to make sure you turn off your lights when you’re not home, particularly your indoor lights,” Schuch said. “When you go to bed or leave the house, turn off your lights.”
The Christmas tree and decorations should not block any of the home’s exits in case there is an emergency and you need to evacuate. When using a live Christmas tree, keep it watered.
Test smoke alarms to guarantee they are working properly.
“Ensure that there are smoke alarms in the house and ensure that the batteries are good,” she said. “Minutes, seconds matter, so you want to make sure that smoke alarms work.”
Schuch pointed out that people simply need to stop and take a few seconds to look around.
“Holidays are a time that we’re rushed, we’re distracted,” she said. “So, it’s very easy to become complacent about fire safety.”