House fire safety tips ahead of holidays

NOW: House fire safety tips ahead of holidays


ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – Christmas is one of the most common times of the year for fires. South Bend Fire Department officials want to remind you to be safe this holiday season with some house fire safety tips. 

  A fire can happen at any time, especially when you are distracted. The South Bend Assistant Fire Chief Gerard Ellis said most house fires in South Bend are preventable. 

 “In South Bend, the majority of the fires start in the kitchen. A lot of those sometimes can be prevented, Assistant Fire Chief Ellis said. “Just by when people cook, just stay in the kitchen, just pay attention.”

As Christmas fast approaches, it is never too late to make sure you are celebrating safely. That applies to your decorations as well. 

The assistant fire chief said if you have a real Christmas tree, make sure it is watered daily, and avoid using multiple extension cords when putting lights on your tree. Trees should also be kept away from heat sources, like space heaters, candles, and fireplaces.

If you have ornaments or Christmas lights, make sure you follow the manufactures instructions and don’t plug them all into one outlet.

Smoking can also cause fires. South Bend Assistant Fire Chief recommends smoking outside away from anything flammable. But if you plan on smoking inside, he suggests using a deep ashtray that way, if the cigarette or an ember falls, it won’t hit the ground.

And these are just some of Ellis' tips to stay safe this holiday season.

“Check the strands, check for cuts, make sure the wires and bulbs work well,” Eilis said.

But, what do you do if a fire breaks out? The Assistant Fire Chief said to have a fire escape plan.

“Have a helpful escape plan. Get everyone outside the house, call 911, and let the firefighters do their job,” Ellis said.

It is also important to have a working smoke detector in your home. That can be the difference between life and death for you and your family.

He also said people react to fires differently, and if your first instinct is to get a fire extinguisher, make sure it’s working, up to date, and not more than five years old.

But, getting out and getting help should be your number one priority. And having a fire escape plan and practicing it with your family is highly important.

“We want everyone to enjoy this holiday season coming up with the warmer temperatures it hasn’t been very cold lately,” Ellis said. But, just practice having an escape plan, a practice that with your family. Get a smoke alarm. If you need one contact us, we have a program for south bend residents. And let everyone enjoy the holiday season and get us into 2022.”

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