December 9, 2008

Preventing a home holiday fire

U.S. safety and health experts advise, Hang your stockings with care, but not if the fireplace is lit.

Experts at the American Industrial Hygiene Association, headquartered in Fairfax, Va., suggest avoiding the danger of fire by taking the following precautions:

-- Have chimney and fireplaces inspected and cleaned as necessary and always make sure the flu is open before lighting a fire.

-- Burning only dry wood or manufactured fireplace logs. Do not burn evergreens, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.

-- Ensure electrical outlets are not overloaded and smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order.

-- Never leave the stove unattended while cooking.

-- Follow manufacturers' recommendations for safe operation of kerosene and propane heaters.

-- Practice fire exit drills with the family.

-- Keep fireplace fire salts, which can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation if eaten, need to be kept away from children and pets.

-- Never leave candles unattended.