NORTHBROOK, Ill., Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Cooking and decorating, both long standing holiday traditions, help make the season merry and bright. However, these activities can also increase the chances of home fires. In fact, cooking remains the number one cause of home fires, with incidents increasing during the festive season. According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency), fires involving holiday lights and decor result in $25.5 million in property damage each year.
In an effort to help prevent home fires, UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a global science safety company, is encouraging families to follow a few important safety tips this holiday season.
"In the kitchen, even the most experienced chefs make mistakes," says UL Consumer Safety Director, John Drengenberg. "Trying to do too many things at once while cooking can potentially lead to accidental fires and related injuries. Protect your family by being a smart and safe chef."
UL offers the following safety guidelines to help prevent accidents in the kitchen:
Watch the Heat:
- When simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check regularly
- Never put metal in the microwave
- Keep kids at least three feet from the stove and other areas where hot food is cooked
- Keep the cooking area clean and clear of anything that can catch fire, such as potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking, as loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner
- When cooking, it's also a good idea to turn the handles of pots inward, in case small kids enter the kid-free zone and reach for the handles
Avoid Overloading Sockets & Check Cords:
- Kitchens are particularly susceptible to overloaded outlets. Always pay attention to the recommended wattage for cords and power strips
- Remember to remove the plug by reaching up and pulling it out of the socket rather than yanking on the cord. Cords should also not be placed underneath anything that is heavy nor should they be tacked to a wall to get them out of the way
Around the Home:
According to the NFPA, holiday trees, lights and decor cause an average 390 fires resulting in 21 civilian deaths and 41 injuries per year. Fire research conducted by UL found that today's residential fires burn hotter and faster due to the combination of open floor plans and increased use of synthetic building materials, furnishings and decor. Hotter faster burning fires drastically reduce the amount of time a family has to escape from burning structure making it more important than ever to ensure homes are equipped with properly working smoke and fire detection alarms.
"Smoke alarms most often fail because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries," says Drengenberg. While it can be easily overlooked during the busy holiday season UL urges consumers to "Take three minutes out of the decorating time to test and maintain smoke alarms to ensure the holidays are safe."
Each year, UL engineers and scientists perform thousands of rigorous tests on products such as holiday lights and electric decorations and is offering the following safety guidelines to help families identify and prevent hazards that too often result in accidents or tragedy.
Check Your Lights, Check Them Twice:
- Inspect all of your electric lights and decorations for damage or wear
- Cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires and loose connections may pose a fire or shock hazard
Decorate with a Safe Eye:
- Cords should not be run under carpets or tacked up with metal nails or staples
- Small decorations can be a choking hazard for small children or pets and should be kept out of reach
- Keep flammable materials "three feet from the heat" of lit candles or fireplaces
Indoor or Outdoor? Look for the UL mark:
- Indoor-use-only light strings are marked with UL's green holographic label
- Indoor- or outdoor-use light strings are marked with UL's red holographic label
- Only use light strings and other electrical decorations that bear the UL mark. The UL mark indicates that samples of that product have been tested to UL's safety standards
To learn more about UL and get valuable information on keeping your home safe this holiday season, please visit www.SafetyAtHome.com.
UL is a premier global safety science company with more than 100 years of proven history. Employing nearly 9,000 professionals in 46 countries, UL is evolving the future of safety with five distinct business units – Product Safety, Environment, Life & Health, Verification and Knowledge Services – to meet the expanding needs of customers and the global public. For more information on UL's family of companies and network of 95 laboratory, testing and certification facilities, go to UL.com.