Submitted by Judie Docs, Executive Officer, North Coast Building Industry Association (NCBIA), CSP, MCSP, CGP, CMP, MIRM

There is no place like home for the holidays. As you spend more time at home, it’s important to keep holiday home safety top of mind. Every year, home fires claim the lives of approximately 2,600 Americans and cause around $7.2 billion in direct property damage. While fire deaths in the home are dropping – largely due to fire safety awareness and home building codes and techniques – far too many people in the United States die each year of something that is often preventable. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), has several tips related to common household activities to keep you and your family safe during the holidays.

Cooking. With gift wrapping, holiday movies on television and entertaining guests, you may lose track of what’s cooking in the kitchen. To prevent cooking fires, you must be alert. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, boiling, or grilling food. It is also important to turn off the burner if you leave the kitchen for any reason. The leading causes of fires in the kitchen are unattended cooking.

Portable Electric Space Heaters. You can stay warm and stay safe if you use heating equipment in your home properly. Always turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room. Experts recommend purchasing and using space heaters that have an automatic shut-off if they tip over. And place space heaters on a solid, flat surface and keep their electrical cords away from things that can burn, high traffic areas, and doorways. Never leave space heaters on overnight or when you leave the home.

Fireplaces. A cherished holiday activity is spending time warming up near the fire. These heating units can be enjoyable, relaxing, and safe if maintained and used properly. Before using your fireplace for the first time each year, have your chimney and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional. Burn only dry, seasoned wood or use artificial fire logs according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Never burn more than one log at a time. Make sure to keep children and pets at least three feet away from the fireplace.

Christmas Trees. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory and replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Almost one-third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. A heat source too close to the tree causes more than one in every five of the fires. And always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

For more home maintenance tips or to help you find a new home for the holidays, contact the NCBIA.  We are your local not-for-profit trade association representing member companies involved in all aspects of home building, remodeling, and other aspects of services available to help you in the future as well as more information on the above topic.   So, you can see it is for your protection that you use a NCBIA member. If you are unsure that your contractor is a member of the NCBIA or you are looking for a list of NCBIA members, you can visit our website at or call 440-934-1090.   We also have a job posting board (under the Industry tab).

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