Fire Safety Expert, Prosper Hodder
LoveToKnow Safety Editor Charlotte Gerber interviewed fire safety expert Prosper Hodder about holiday fire safety tips. Prosper, a volunteer firefighter in Campbell, New York, offered LoveToKnow readers the following information homeowners can use to keep their families safe.
LTK: What are some pointers that homeowners should follow when setting up their holiday lighting indoors?
Prosper: Never block doorways, overload circuits or leave lights on when you are not home.
LTK: What safety precautions should people follow when setting up lighting outdoors?
Prosper: Always use ladders in a safe manner; follow safety instructions that come with the ladders. Have someone with you when using ladders in case you do get into trouble. Be sure to use outdoor extension cords, not indoor ones that are approved for outdoor lighting. As with indoor lighting, never overload the circuits.
LTK: What kind of lights shouldn't be used on trees?
Prosper: Never use any type of regular light bulb or candles to light your tree. Regular light bulbs have a higher wattage and can easily start fires in a tree. Candles should never be used on a tree because of the fire safety hazard they pose.
Common Home Fire Hazards
LTK: What are some common mistakes that cause fires in the home during the holidays?
Prosper: Common mistakes include forgetting to put out candles, not cleaning out chimneys each year before using fire places and not using proper electrical sources. Many chimney fires are caused by a build up of creosote that sticks to the inside of the chimney. If it isn't cleaned out each year it will clog the chimney and eventually catch fire.
The ABCs of Putting Out Fires
LTK: What should people use to put out a fire?
Prosper: Follow the ABCs of firefighting.
- Class A Fires: This includes non-metal combustibles such as plastics, clothing and wood. Douse with water or a fire extinguisher. Do not move the items on fire as they can start a bigger fire.
- Class B Fires: These are flammable liquids such as grease, oil, kerosene and gasoline. If possible, turn off burners. Use baking soda to put out a small fire; use a fire extinguisher for a larger fire. Never put out a Class B fire with water, as it will only make it spread.
- Class C Fires: Electrical items such as lights, toasters and electrical outlets. When possible, unplug the item on fire. Otherwise use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire. Never use water as it acts as a conductor and will make the fire bigger.
Holiday Fire Safety Tips
LTK: Are there any other holiday fire safety tips for the home that you would like to share with our readers?
Prosper: Buy fire extinguishers and place them in areas of the home where fires are likely to occur, such as the kitchen and living rooms. They can be purchased at local retail stores, hardware stores and they may be available at your local fire department. If you do have a house fire, call your local fire department from a safe place, such as a neighbor's home or use your cell phone.
If you haven't already practiced how to evacuate your family from your home, start now. Practice evacuation routes and have a designated place to meet once you are all out of your home. Teach your children how to get out of a house on fire- check doors to see if they are hot before you open them and crawl on your hands and knees to stay beneath the smoke.
Use this time of year to check your smoke alarms to ensure they are working, just in case a fire does start in your home.