By Jody Weyers, Communications Volunteer
The weekend after Thanksgiving I was so excited to get out all my holiday decorations and go to town decorating in a new space. I moved into a new duplex seven months ago and this was my first Christmas in my new place. What makes a place feel cozy and warm during the holidays –candles and lots of them.
I have been with the American Red Cross for almost 15 years, so I know candles are dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one-fifth of home decoration fires occur in December, and over half of these are started by candles.
This year, I transitioned to the battery operated candles. I know you are thinking, it is not the same…. But yes, it really is. Battery operated tea-lights are all over my house and you cannot tell the difference from a real candle. They are available in all sizes, shapes and colors. I went to Michael’s Craft Store and was floored by all the different varieties available. I know they don’t give off any scent, and part of the holidays I love is the smells of cinnamon, pine and vanilla so I also invested in an aromatherapy room mist in all my favorite scents and for when I have guests.
At first you might think they are expensive, but when you look at the cost of your house burning down or investing in battery operated candles, that price tag soon becomes a non-factor. They also provide peace of mind. If I go to bed or leave my house with one of these candles still on, I don’t have to worry about it.
This is just one small change I am making this year so my holiday is a little safer. The Red Cross offers these additional tips to keep your home safe during the holiday season.
- If you do decide to burn candles, make sure to keep them away from children, pets and decorations.
- Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Place away from heat sources and exits. Water real trees daily.
- Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.
- Install smoke alarms.
- Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
- If hanging stockings on a fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
On average, 7 people die and 36 people suffer injuries from home fires every day. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it is too late. The Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign works to reduce this number by urging American to follow two simple steps: check existing smoke alarms and practice home fire drills.
People can visit www.redcross.org for more information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from home fires.