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Practice Indoor Fire Safety During The Winter Holiday Months

It’s officially the fall season! Depending on where you live, it might as well be winter. Here in Sonoma County, the days are getting darker and colder, all you want to do is bundle up by the fire with a cup of tea, cocoa, coffee or cider – take your pick!

However, with all this joy comes more fire hazard risks. Yes, sometimes it seems all we think about is wildfires, even with ongoing outdoor improvements. There’s always a risk when heat is involved. Colder weather means we are doing what we can to keep our houses warm – in more ways than one. We desire to be festive, which is perfectly fine this time of year. Keep the following potential indoor hazards in mind, and learn how to stay safe as well as cozy this holiday season.

Electric/Space Heaters

It’s time to bring out that ol’ dusty plug in heater. Although they are helpful if you are limited on heating options, their wattage and ability to remain unseen make them the perfect fire starter. Make sure to keep your heater at least 3 ft. from any furniture, curtains, and bedding. Always operate a space heater on a flat, nonflammable surface (preferably, the floor). Remembering whether you turned off the heater before leaving your home can be difficult, so unplugging directly from the wall is always recommended!

Wall Heaters

Keep all flammable materials at least 3 ft. away from the wall, and do not set anything (flammable or not) onto the heater.

Heating Blankets

These are extra cozy and sometimes incredibly helpful for extremely frosty nights. Make sure there are no frayed wires, any discoloration or damage. It is not recommended to use the blanket for an entire night; some heating blankets have a timer and heater level you can operate.

Unattended Cooktops and Ovens

Kitchen mishaps are the number one cause of housefires. During the holidays, it’s exponential. There’s a lot going on while making a large meal and we get distracted. Never walk away from anything cooking on the stove top or electric skillet. If you use your oven, make sure you use a timer to keep track of the food cooking.

Fireplaces/Pellet Stoves

We can’t say enough about heat sources with open flames! Before using, make sure your chimney is clear of debris and if needed, have it inspected. Always use a fire screen and burn either wood or pellets. Any other substances can float out and catch surrounding materials on fire. Regularly remove ashes into a metal container and place outside your home.

Holiday Trees

Keep your live trees well-watered and make sure your artificial tree doesn’t have a buildup of dust. Keeping lights on throughout the evening is not recommended, and especially when you’re not home. Make sure your tree is several feet away from any heating source.


Never keep a candle lit while unattended, and place any lit candles away from the edge of counters.

Holiday Lights and Decorations

We love all the holiday lights, they really set the cheerful mood! When using any holiday lights, inside or outside, make sure they’re in good shape (no frays, breakage, etc.) and don’t overload your home with more wattage than it can handle. As tempting as it is, don’t run extension cords under carpet or near a heat source.

You can go over this list repeatedly throughout the holiday season to avoid hazards, and still encounter one in your home. Things happen, no matter the time of year. Before beginning the festivities, make sure you have working smoke detectors/alarms in your home, as well as a fire extinguisher and regular access to a phone. Also, make a plan with your family to review emergency protocols, such as how to dial 911, how to use a fire extinguisher and where to meet should a fire inside your home occur. In general, keep children and pets away from the hazards listed.

We certainly hope you do not experience a housefire this holiday season – stay safe with these tips!