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Keep the Wreath Green

Fire Department’s annual holiday fire safety campaign under way

December 12, 2017
Pine Island Eagle

The Cape Coral Fire Department has kicked off its annual, holiday fire safety campaign.

The "Keep the Wreath Green" campaign started Dec. 1. For the fifth year in a row, a wreath illuminated with green bulbs has been placed outside Fire Station 4, at 2007 Santa Barbara Blvd. Every time a preventable fire occurs during December, one of the green bulbs is changed into a red one.

Preventable fires are fires caused by cooking, smoking, space heaters, candles and such.

"People get so busy during the holidays that you're easily distracted," spokeswoman Andrea Schuch said. "The wreaths just provide a visual reminder to everybody to slow down and stay safe."

The first two years of the campaign ended with the wreath displaying five red bulbs. For the past two years, however, there has only been one red bulb on the wreath when the campaign came to an end.

"While the goal is for there to be no red bulbs, the department is happy to see fewer green bulbs turning red, indicating that the community is becoming more fire safety conscious during the holidays," she said.

Fact Box

Holiday Safety Tips

Decorations

* Choose holiday decorations carefully, using those only made of flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.

* Keep decorations away from heat sources. Of the fires that began with decorations, nearly half occurred due to the decoration's proximity to a heat source.

* Keep decorations away from windows and doors that might be needed as a means of escape.

Candles

* Keep candles at least 12 inches away from decorations or other combustible materials. Two of every five home decoration fires are started by candles.

* Never leave candles unattended. Extinguish them when you leave the room.

* Use sturdy candle holders that will not tip over.

Lights

* Use only lights listed by an independent testing laboratory and pay close attention to the manufacturer's instructions for use.

* Closely inspect all holiday lighting before use to insure all wires, bulbs and connections are in a safe condition. Discard any lights with exposed wires, broken insulation, cracked or missing bulbs, or other defects.

* Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.

* Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.

Christmas trees

* Before purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.

* When choosing a live Christmas tree, look for signs of freshness by lightly pulling branches through your closed fist. Fresh trees should retain their needles during this test.

* Have the tree lot operator provide a "fresh cut" by removing 1 inch to 2 inches from the base of the trunk.

* Immediately place the tree in water and add water daily. Keep a close check on the dryness of the tree and remove the tree when needles easily fall off.

* Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit and is at least 3 feet away from any heat source like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.

Cooking

* Unattended cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire injuries. After Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the peak days for home cooking fires.

* When frying, grilling or broiling, stay in the kitchen. Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it is for a short period of time.

* When simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, stay in the home and check on it frequently; use a timer as a reminder if necessary.

* Create a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and drinks are prepared or carried.

Smoking

* Ask smokers to smoke outside.

* Provide them with large, deep ashtrays,and wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.

* Keep matches and lighters up high, away from children.

n Ensure there is a working smoke alarm on each level of your home and practice fire escape plans with all family members and holiday guests.

Source: Cape Coral Fire Department

As of Tuesday, the wreath had one red bulb on it.

Schuch explained that the department responded to an oven fire over the weekend.

"The people put the oven on the self-cleaning mode, but there was a pot of oil in the oven," she said. "Flames were coming out of the top of the oven. It was a pretty substantial fire."

There was minimal smoke damage and no one was injured.

"It could have been much worse," Schuch said.

Crews also responded to a house fire on Tuesday in the 3600 block of Northeast 12 Avenue. Once the flames were extinguished, a search of the residence revealed the body of a decreased individual.

The fire remains under investigation.

During the holidays, the risk of home fires increases with the added use of fireplaces, decorative lighting, live Christmas trees and burning of candles. Officials offered some tips to stay safe.

"We want everyone to have a safe, very happy holidays," Schuch said.

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in America. After Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the peak days for home cooking fires.

"Cooking fires are always the No. 1 cause," she said.

When frying, grilling or broiling, stay in the kitchen. When simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, stay in the home and check on it frequently. Create a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet.

"You want to be sure to keep the children out of the kitchen," Schuch said.

Before buying an artificial tree, make sure it is identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant. With a live tree, look for signs of freshness when buying, add water daily and keep away from heat sources.

Once the holidays are over, dispose of the tree in a timely manner; do not try to keep it.

"Don't forget to check the water levels of your tree. Dry Christmas trees are just kindling waiting to catch fire," she said. "And make sure that they don't cover any exits (in case of an emergency)."

Once again, the CCFD has provided Christmas tree vendors throughout the city with fire safety and Christmas tree safety tags. The vendors can now provide the tags to residents as they a buy tree.

Closely inspect all holiday lighting before use to ensure all wires, bulbs and connections are in a safe condition. Use clips, not nails, to hang lights, and turn off all lights when leaving or going to bed.

Opt for a surge protector over a basic power strip.

"Don't overload outlets with your decorations," she said.

When it comes to decorations, use those only made of flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-consumable materials. Keep them away from heat sources, as well as windows and doors.

Two out of five home decoration fires are started by candles. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from decorations or other combustible materials, and never leave them unattended in a room.

"Use wide-based candles," Schuch said. "Don't ever leave any lighted candle alone in a room."

Ensure smoke alarms work on each level of the home, and practice a fire escape plan.

"Make sure your smoke alarms are working and everybody knows the ways out," she said.

For more information, visit capecoral.net/fire or www.facebook.com/CapeCoralFD.

 
 

 

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