Escambia County Fire Rescue, in collaboration with the Pensacola Fire Department, will launch its annual “Keep the Wreath Green” fire safety campaign Friday, Dec. 1. While a joyous time of year, cold weather, holiday decorations and festivities can create serious fire dangers. Firefighters hope to reduce the number of fires by promoting simple, life-saving holiday safety tips each day, Dec. 1 through the 31.
During the month-long campaign, five-foot wreaths will also be on display at 18 county fire stations and five city fire stations, with wreaths also be placed outside Escambia County's Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building downtown, the Escambia County Public Safety Building, Pensacola City Hall and Cordova Mall near the food court entrance. Each time firefighters respond to a residential fire with damage, a green light bulb will be replaced with a red one to remind citizens of the dangers posed by fires in residential home. In 2016, 12 bulbs were changed to red on county wreaths.
According to the United States Fire Administration, fires occurring during the winter claim the lives of over 900 people and cause over $2.1 billion in damage. Nationally, cooking is the leading cause of home winter fires, with 5 to 8 p.m. being the most common time for a fire to occur. A working smoke detector cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half. For information about obtaining a home smoke detector, call Escambia County Fire Rescue at 850-595-HERO (4376) or 850-436-5200 for city of Pensacola residents.
Escambia County Fire Rescue and the Pensacola Fire Department offer the following holiday safety tips, one for each day of the month:
Dec. 1 - Prior to buying a live tree, test its freshness by pulling along a small branch. If the needles fall away in your hand, the tree is already too dry.
Dec. 2 - Prior to buying an artificial tree, make sure the tree bears a UL label of approval, and be certain the tree is made of fire retardant materials.
Dec. 3 - To keep a live tree fresh, cut 1-2 inches from the bottom to expose fresh wood and place it in water. Make sure your tree stand can hold water. Check the water level every day, and add water as needed. Do not place trees near sources of heat like radiators, space heaters or heating ducts.
Dec. 4 - Use candles with care. Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Burn candles inside a 1-foot circle of safety, free of anything that can ignite. Use sturdy candle holders that will not tip over. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
Dec. 5 - Make sure all holiday lights are UL labeled and inspect them prior to use. If possible, use LED lights since they burn cooler. Check each set of lights for broken or crushed sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard all damaged lights.
Dec. 6 - When hanging holiday lights either on your tree or outside, make sure you follow the manufacturer's guidelines on how many strands can be connected together. Usually it is not more than three. Make sure you do not overload electrical outlets or circuits. Do not run power cords underneath rugs or carpets.
Dec. 7 - When decorating, remember not to block stairways, doors or windows. Remember to always unplug lights and extinguish candles before leaving the house or going to bed.
Dec. 8 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step one – Design an emergency plan for your home and your family. Make sure everyone understands exactly what to do and where to go in an emergency. Also, make sure you have enough smoke alarms.
Dec. 9 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step two – Know two ways out of every room and practice them to make sure you can do it.
Dec. 10 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step three – Make sure you crawl low under smoke and feel closed doors for heat. If you come to a door that is warm, find another way out.
Dec. 11 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step four – If you become trapped, close doors and stuff the door cracks to keep smoke out. Try to call 911 and let them know exactly where you are, and signal for help from a window.
Dec. 12 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step five – Pay special attention to young children, elderly people and the disabled. Be sure to include them in your plan.
Dec. 13 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step six – Get out as fast as you can and stay out. Never go back inside. Once you’re safely outside, have someone go to a neighbor’s house and call 911.
Dec. 14 - Remember, matches and lighters are tools for adults. Store them in a safe place out of reach of children. Also, teach youngsters to never touch matches or lighters and instead tell a grownup if they find them.
Dec. 15 - Have a fire extinguisher readily available in your home, and make sure it is fully charged. Know how to use your fire extinguisher. Remember the PASS system:
- Pull the pin.
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the trigger lever.
- Sweep the stream side-to-side at the base of the fire.
Dec. 16 - Have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional to make sure they are clean and free of obstructions. Never burn paper or trash in the fireplace.
Dec. 17 - Be sure your fireplace is covered with a metal screen or glass doors to prevent the spread of sparks and fire.
Dec. 18 - Make sure to have a working smoke alarm outside of every bedroom and on every level of your house. Make sure to test them monthly and change batteries every time you change your clocks.
Dec. 19 - With children out of school, people doing yard work, dry vegetation, high winds and low humidity, remember that wildfires can happen quickly.
Dec. 20 - If you are enjoying the great outdoors during the holidays, don’t leave campfires or warming fires unattended – make sure they are completely out!
Dec. 21 - Never leave cooking food unattended. Handles on stovetop pots should be turned away from the front, so they won’t be accidentally tipped or knocked over.
Dec. 22 - Before you cook that holiday dinner, be sure that the oven and stovetop are clean, free of grease and are in good working order.
Dec. 23 - Keep cooking areas clean and free of grease and other combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging), which can catch fire easily.
Dec. 24 - Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace because of the high flammability, dangerous sparks and possibility of flash fires.
Dec. 25 - Remember to be safety conscious and have a happy holiday.
Dec. 26 - When purchasing a space heater, look for heaters that have safety features such as cut-off switches that turn the heater off if it accidentally tips over or overheats.
Dec. 27 - Space heaters need space. Make sure they are at least 3 feet away from combustible materials such as draperies, furniture, bedding, clothing and decorations. Also teach youngsters to keep away from them.
Dec. 28 - Use only UL labeled space heaters and follow the manufactured instructions. Never use stoves, ovens or other cooking appliances to warm your home.
Dec. 29 - Turn space heaters off when you leave the room. Also, remember to constantly supervise children and pets when space heaters are in use.
Dec. 30 - Don’t cut up and burn your tree in the fireplace. Burning evergreens give off tar and creosol, which can ignite and cause a chimney fire. Dispose of your tree by following the instructions of your local trash disposal service.
Dec. 31 - Don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver or call a friend.