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A Word From RWC Fire Marshal About Holiday Fire Hazards

Fire marshal Jim Palisi says Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in homes are vital.

Jim Palisi, Fire Marshal, Redwood City Fire Department  Photo: Joan Dentler
Jim Palisi, Fire Marshal, Redwood City Fire Department Photo: Joan Dentler

[Editor's note: The following was submitted by the City of Redwood City.]

The Redwood City Fire Department reminds residents that winter fires and carbon monoxide poisoning are serious and prevalent threats during the holiday/winter season. 

Facts about Home Holiday Fires and the Winter Season

  • One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of Christmas tree fires.
  • More than half (56%) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.905 people die in winter home fires each year.
  • $2,091,000,000 in property loss occurs from winter home fires.
  • 67 percent of winter fires occur in one and two-family homes.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of all winter home fires.
  • 5 to 8pm is the most common time for winter home fire.

Carbon Monoxide

Also known as CO, carbon monoxide is called the "Invisible Killer" because it's a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces - appliances used at a higher rate over the holidays and winter season.

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ultimately death
For more information, go to http://www.redwoodcity.org/fire/.

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