Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are times of the year when family and friends come together to share memories and a meal, sing, decorate and exchange gifts.
The holiday season can be especially difficult if a fire were to break out in a home and take the life of a loved one.
According to local media, a body of one man was found following a fire in Whitehall; a second fire this past weekend displaced nine people and killed a dog.
The body of a 49-year-old man was found after a fire occurred around 10 p.m. Dec. 7 at Spring Ridge Apartments, 1308 N. 13th St., Whitehall Township.
In Pottsville, nine people were displaced and a dog was killed when a fire broke out around 12:03 p.m. Dec. 9 in their home.
According to the American Red Cross, “Home fires can happen at any time, but they generally increase during the fall and winter, with December and January being the peak months.
“Home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in the home.”
The American Red Cross fact sheet states the second leading cause of home fires are heating sources such as wood stoves and fireplaces.
Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego, on Dec. 10, offered comment.
“In modern homes, some of our most cherished holiday traditions can pose significant fire risks,” Trego wrote. “Home decoration fires are surprisingly common, and the most common ignition source is a lighted candle.
“Also, don’t let the holiday season get the upper hand on you by forgetting to water live trees.”
The 12 Days of Holiday Fire Safety campaign includes:
• Day 1: Keep all holiday greenery, including trees, well-watered.
• Day 2: Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections, and avoid connecting more than three strands of lights on a tree.
• Day 3: Make sure all smoke detectors are installed and working properly.
• Day 4: Protect your family with carbon monoxide alarms.
• Day 5: Make sure everyone knows how to get out of the home or apartment safely and a common location to meet. Immediately call 911.
• Day 6: Use electrical power strips instead of extension cords when plugging in more than one item such as Christmas tree lights.
• Day 7: Keep anything that can burn or start a fire, such as curtains, three feet away from any heat source, such as electric baseboard or portable heaters and fireplaces.
• Day 8: Keep burning candles safely away from children and pets, and remember to blow them out when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Day 9: Keep matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children.
• Day 10: Never leave cooking appliances unattended, especially if using oil or high temperatures.
• Day 11: Encourage smokers to smoke outside and ensure cigarette butts are properly extinguished.
• Day 12: Keep a close eye on anyone attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol.
Other ways to prevent fires include:
• Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
• Be sure to turn off holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
• Have a qualified professional clean the home heating system or chimney and vent once a year.
• Never return into a burning home, apartment or building.
• Don’t forget the family pets. If you can’t get to them on your way out of the home, notify fire officials once they arrive, so they can rescue them.
Help make the holidays fun and festive for your loved ones, pets and yourself by keeping everyone safe from fires.