Holiday Fire Safety Begins at Home, Says State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer

December 10, 2021 - With the holiday season and colder temperatures upon us, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is reminding Michiganders that this is a peak season for home fires. Unattended candles, space heaters, worn lights, and dry Christmas trees increases the risk of having a home fire this time of year.

"It is vital that all Michiganders follow basic fire safety tips to help keep friends and family safe and avoid tragedy this holiday season," said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. "A dry Christmas tree is extremely flammable, and these types of fires can turn deadly within seconds, allowing little time for escape."

The following video shows how quickly a dried-out Christmas tree fire burns, with the whole room igniting in less than one minute, as compared to a tree watered daily: Christmas tree demo

Safety tips for consumers include:

  • Check the Christmas tree's water level every day.
  • Keep the Christmas tree away from candles, space heaters and smoking materials.
  • Use Christmas lights that are in good condition. Do not use lights with worn or tattered cords.

MI Prevention has identified careless smoking as the leading cause of fire deaths followed by heating equipment, including space heaters at home fires during 2021.

Additional tips for safe smoking and safe heating for consumers include:

  • Keep a cleared space of 3 feet around your space heater to avoid any object that can burn, including people.
  • Never use a space heater near the Christmas tree.
  • Unplug space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the top three days for home candle fires to occur on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. In many cases, fires that occur around the holidays are caused by unattended candles left burning, either when the resident falls asleep or leaves the home with the candle left burning. Michigan residents are advised to:

  • Keep candles away from the Christmas tree, decorations, curtains, and furniture that can catch fire.
  • Always keep candles up high to prevent them from getting knocked over by children and pets.

MI Prevention has identified people over the age of 40 as having the greatest risk to die in a residential fire in Michigan. "Please remember to discuss these key fire safety elements with family members and neighbors as you visit with them over the holidays," Sehlmeyer said.

Methods to increase your chances of surviving a residential fire include:

  • Having a working smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas, and one on every level of the home.
  • Have a prepared and practiced fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.

MI Prevention strongly encourages Michigan residents, especially caregivers or anyone who takes care of someone, to watch the following fire safety video to better help those that you care about to increase your chances of surviving a residential fire: MI Prevention fire safety

If you are experiencing financial hardship and need smoke alarms, please contact the Bureau of Fire Services at 517-241-8847.

For more fire safety information, please visit the MI Prevention website.

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