Public Safety Message: Holiday Fire Safety Tips

thumb-public-safety-message-dec2023By Chief Wade Watkins

Here we are!! The holidays have arrived! Let’s celebrate while providing for safety first. U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated average of 790 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees. These fires caused an annual average of four civilian fire deaths, 33 civilian fire injuries and $14 million in direct property damage.

Below are some very sound tips from the American Red Cross. When this information is applied, we can prevent and lessen the impact of accidental fires.

Cooking and Baking

No holiday celebration would be complete without a feast but be sure to take precautions against kitchen fires when you’re cooking and baking. That includes keeping children and flammable items, such as grocery bags and kitchen towels, away from the stove and oven. Clean up greasy spills as you go to remove another fire hazard. If you’re deep frying a turkey, keep the fryer well away from structures and trees, make sure your turkey is fully thawed, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your fryer.

Christmas Trees

Old-fashioned Christmas celebrations featured wax candles on live tree branches – inside homes! Today we know better, but risks remain. If your family prefers real trees, be sure to water yours every day because dry needles and wood catch fire more easily. Go ahead and use many strings of light, but don’t plug more than three strings into each other (opt for a power strip instead). Discard light strings that are worn or broken. And be sure to always unplug the lights before leaving the house or going to sleep.


Nothing takes the chill off winter holidays like the light and heat of a fireplace. Just be sure to keep “fuel” – from wrapping paper to rugs to clothing – at least three feet away from the flames. Use a fire screen to keep embers and logs from escaping. Lastly, make sure all embers are fully extinguished before you turn in for the night.

Calling 911

If you or the community needs the assistance of emergency responders:

When you call 911, be prepared to answer the call-taker's questions, which may include:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address
  • The phone number you are calling from
  • The nature of the emergency
  • Details about the emergency

Remember, the call-taker's questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly.

Thank you for taking a minute out of your day to prepare to be safe! Please feel free to reach out to me at if you have any questions on how Unified Fire Authority (UFA) serves Riverton City.

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