Holiday Fire Dangers and First Responders

Holiday Fire Dangers and First Responders

Thursday, 07 October 2021 14:11

It's almost the most wonderful time of the year. The last eighteen months have been among the most challenging in recent history, so people across the country are looking forward to this season as much as ever. 

Last year, many families were forced to cancel longstanding holiday traditions and postpone gatherings. This year will likely be a return to normalcy. People will be making up for lost time as they celebrate together.

The holidays are a special time of year, but they can also be dangerous. Traffic accidents, house fires, and other emergencies occur with even higher frequency during what is supposed to be a time of peace and goodwill to everyone.

In this post, we are discussing some of the most dangerous parts of the holidays, and how firehouses and first responders can respond more efficiently to calls during this season. 


Eight Common Dangers During the Holidays

1) Christmas Tree Fires

According to the NFPA, “Between 2014-2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year.” There are several factors that contribute to Christmas tree fires:

  • Christmas trees can get dry quickly.
  • One in five Christmas tree fires are caused by trees being placed too close to heat sources.
  • It takes a lot of work to decorate trees, so families might be slow to dispose of them after Christmas. 
  • People sometimes overload trees with too many lights.
  • Christmas trees can burn hot and fast. 

Your fire department is likely doing all it can to warn neighbors and families about the dangers of Christmas tree fires.

2) Christmas Decoration Fires

During the same period mentioned above, firefighters responded to an average of 770 structural fires caused by holiday decorations in general. Decoration-related fires can devastate families during the season that should be associated with joy and peace.

3) Christmas Candle Fires

Half of Christmas decoration fires are ultimately caused by candles, per the NFPA. While candles contribute to an atmosphere of peace and tranquility during holiday get-togethers, when an open flame is too close to holiday decorations, we know how dangerous it can be. 

4) Holiday Poisonings

One potentially hidden danger during the holidays is the potential for children to be accidentally poisoned. At many holiday work and family gatherings, there is more alcohol openly accessible than some families and kids might be used to. It is much easier for curious children to fill up on more than their bodies are able to safely absorb. 

Also, some hosts may not have their medicines locked up or hidden as well as they should, providing the opportunity for kids to overdose. Many first responders will answer calls related to this danger. 

5) Over Exertion During Activities 

‘Tis the season for snow and ice. People don’t want to let a little weather stop them from hosting their traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, so they work all afternoon shoveling snow on top of cooking and decorating. 

It is easy to become overexerted and end up needing the help of paramedics. 

6) Traffic Issues

The holidays are one of the most dangerous times of the year to travel. Some of the busiest days of the year with the highest injury and fatality rates are on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. 

Unfortunately, when firefighters and paramedics should be spending time with their families, they are often responding to these heartbreaking calls.

7) Unwrapping Presents

Unwrapping presents can actually be a holiday danger. Some toys and gifts are wrapped in thick “safety” plastic that can require tools to open. Unfortunately, scissors and knives being used within the chaos of the family gift-giving sessions on Christmas morning can lead to accidents and injuries.

8) Holiday Cooking Fires

According to the NFPA, “In 2018, the three leading dates for home structure fires caused by cooking were: Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and the day before Thanksgiving.” 

There is a lot of cooking to be done for holiday gatherings. Unfortunately, cooking is responsible for a number of structural fires, especially this time of year. 

How Departments Can Make Changes to Help Respond Better During the Holidays

For firefighters and paramedics, the holidays can be a nightmare at times. You try your best to maximize time with your own families, but you know you are going to be stretched thin. It is easy to approach this season with some cynicism. 

However, with the right tools in place, you can approach calls during the holidays and throughout the year with increased confidence and efficiency

StreetWise® is a suite of full-featured software products specifically designed for Fire & EMS. With our comprehensive software and versatile tablet, you no longer have to rely on clunky laptops and systems designed for police departments. 

With rapid call alerting, customized Google-based maps, real-time traffic information, locations of hydrants, tactical waypoints, live unit tracking with directional apparatus indicators, and comprehensive incident preplan management, Streetwise takes you from the firehouse to the scene of the call and back with precision and efficiency. 

If you would like more information about how you can respond better to holiday calls and emergencies throughout the year, contact our team at StreetWise today