There’s no place like home for the holidays.
But according to fire officials, 100 Alabamians have died in their homes this year. Statistics show, the holiday season is prime time for fires, and the death toll may rise.
In an effort to reduce fire fatalities, WVUA 23 is teaming up with Tuscaloosa Fire & Rescue. In a special demonstration, we purposely made several common mistakes. In the exercise, we left a candle unattended, lit a cigarette, and put the space heater too close to flammable objects.
However, according to Tuscaloosa Fire & Rescue Chief Alan Martin, one of the most common holiday hazards is the extension cord.
“The overloaded extension cord. Too many things plugged into that extension cord is probably the most common hazard that we see,” Martin said.
The second most common hazard is having combustibles too close to space heaters.
“Be sure to leave plenty of space around any flammable object,” Martin said, “And never walk away and leave a heater unattended.”
In the special demonstration, a fire flared up around the lit cigarette. This came as no surprise to officials, who said smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires.
In homes with working smoke alarms, survival chances are much higher than homes without the device. However, Martin urges homeowners to check the battery regularly, and place the alarm as high as possible.
“It really should be up on the ceiling, preferably,” Martin said.
Fire officials said following these simple tips will ensure your holiday is festive, rather than flammable: 1.) Have a working smoke alarm installed on the ceiling; 2.) Keep combustibles away from heaters and open flames; 3.) Never leave cigarettes unattended; 4.) When cooking, do not leave the area; 5.) Avoid overloading extension cords, and check often for frayed wires.
“Help is available to residents who don’t have smoke alarms,” Martin said, “just call the fire department, and we will be happy to help.”