The Elk Grove Village Fire Department wants to remind our residents of the importance of holiday season fire safety. During the winter months, many households engage in activities that serve as some of the leading causes of U.S. home fires, including: cooking, Christmas trees, candle usage and holiday decorations.
Did You Know?
- Two of every five home decoration fires are started by candles
- Nearly 50% of decoration fires are caused by decorations that are too close to a heat source
- Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires caused by cooking equipment
Candle Safety Tips
NEVER leave candles burning in an unoccupied room.
NEVER place lighted candles in doorways, halls or other locations where pets or people passing by could knock them over.
NEVER move a burning candle. To change its location, first snuff it out, then move it and re-light it.
NEVER substitute a candle for a flashlight. Children have caused tragic fires by using candles to look for toys and clothing underneath beds or in closets.
NEVER let children light candles.
NEVER place lighted candles near draperies, bedding, bathroom towels, upholstery, or other combustible materials.
NEVER keep lit candles near your Christmas tree or any other plant or greenery. Dry leaves can catch fire easily.
While space heaters and fireplaces make us feel warm and toasty, these two heat sources also represent a leading cause of home fires and fire fatalities, according to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM).
Nationally, heating equipment caused an estimated 66,100 home structure fires resulting in 480 civilian deaths, 1,660 injuries and $1.1 billion in direct property damage in 2008. “Because home heating fires are often the result of human error, the majority of them are preventable,” says Larry Matkaitis, Illinois State Fire Marshal. “By following basic safety precautions and making some simple modifications and adjustments, people can greatly reduce their risk.”
OSFM offers the following advice to stay warm and fire-safe:
All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instruction. Have a qualified professional install the equipment.
Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is created when fuels burn incompletely. CO poisoning can cause illness and even death.
Make sure the venting for exhaust is kept clear and unobstructed. This includes removal of snow around the outlet to the outside.
Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
Turn space heaters off when you leave a room or go to sleep
For more information about fire safety and prevention, please visit www.state.il.us/osfm or www.nfpa.org.
"Bird-Proof" Your Chimney
Over the past several years, the Village has experienced several home fires in prefabricated chimney assemblies. These fires were a result of nesting material from birds who enter the top of the flue pipe area near the rain cap to build nests. Over the years, bird-nesting material falls down the flue pipe chase, lands on top of the firebox, and ignites when exposed to the heat of the flue pipe.
These fires occur in prefabricated fireplaces with combustible enclosures and can occur in any fireplace that is not properly closed off to birds.
In order to clean the flue pipe area of bird nesting material, the siding must be removed near the firebox to gain entry. Both the top of the flue pipe area and the firebox location should be checked for nesting material. After nesting material has been removed, the top area of the rain cap and all open areas need to be enclosed with 3/8 inch mesh or screen material. Other fireplace precautions to take include:
Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional service person annually before the start of the heating season.
Never use any type of flammable or combustible liquid to start a fire.
Don't burn plastics, garbage, colored paper, or wood that has been painted or treated. Burn only well seasoned hard wood.
Children should be taught not to touch or play around the fireplace.
Install and maintain smoke alarms near every bedroom and on all levels of your home.
Place a multipurpose "ABC" type fire extinguisher in or near the same room as the fireplace. This extinguisher should have a minimum rating of 1A-10B:C.
Never hesitate to call the Fire Department at 911 if you suspect an emergency problem with your fireplace.
- If you buy a real Christmas tree, make sure it is fresh.Check the branches for browning.Shake the tree; if more than a few needles fall off, the tree is already dry and might catch fire easily.
- Put the tree in a sturdy stand and fill it to the top with water or wet sand.You will need to add more water every day or so.Do not place the tree near a fireplace or radiator.Do not block a stairway or door because if the tree did catch on fire, you might not be able to get out of the house.
- If you buy an artificial Christmas tree, get one with a certified UL label. This indicates that it has been tested for safety by Underwriters Laboratories.
- Never use candles on or near any Christmas tree and do not smoke near the tree.
- Before putting electric lights on the tree, check the wires carefully.If they are frayed or if the bulbs are loose, buy new lights. Old Christmas lights can be recycled at Village Hall.
- When you leave the house or go to bed, unplug all electrical decorations. Make sure you do not plug too many devices into the same electrical socket, as this is a major cause of holiday fires.
- Christmas decorations are pretty, but should also be as safe as possible. Be sure that all of your decorations are flame resistant.
It's hard to beat the speed of deep-frying a turkey or the irresistible flavor and juiciness that result. But turkey fryers have the potential to cause fire and serious injury, which is why organizations like Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association advise against using them. However, if you plan to deep-fry your holiday turkey, be sure you know how to safely use the fryer, and take these precautions to protect yourself, your guests and your home.
- Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and other structures, and a safe distance away from trees.
- Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
- Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
- Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it’s in use.
- Leave two (2) feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner.
- Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that's 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
- Never leave fryers unattended.
- Purchase a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
- Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner back on.
- Wear goggles to shield your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms and keep a grease-rated fire extinguisher close by.
- Skip the stuffing when frying turkey, and avoid water-based marinades.
- Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
- Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.
- Opt for an oil-less fryer. This uses infrared heat, rather than oil, to cook the turkey.