The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays. From testing family recipes to decorating cakes and cookies, everyone enjoys being part of the preparations. Kids especially love to be involved in holiday preparations. However, safety in the kitchen is important, especially when there is a lot of activity and people at home.

As you start preparing your holiday schedule and organizing that large family feast, remember to play it safe! E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety offers a few simple tips so you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep yourself and your family safer from fire.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop or cooking your turkey so you can keep an eye on the food and check on it frequently.
  • Keep kids away from the stove. Maintain a three-foot kid free zone away from things that are hot and can burn (the stove, oven, microwave, or food).
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy, or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Have activities that keep kids out of the kitchen during this busy time. Games, puzzles, or books can keep them busy. Kids can get involved in preparations with recipes that can be done outside the kitchen.
  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the oven or stovetop.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pets, pocketbooks, or bags.
  • Keep knives, utility lighters, and matches out of the reach of children. Place these tools up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a room with a lit candle. When you leave the room, extinguish the candle.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working and are located on every level of your home. Test them by pushing the test button, replace batteries annually and replace alarms every 10 years.
  • Never place smoke alarms in the kitchen or immediately outside the bathroom where cooking odors or steam from the shower can cause nuisance activations.
  • Keep exits clear and accessible. In case of a fire, everyone in the home needs immediate access to the closest exit leading outside.

If your family needs a new smoke alarm and you are unable to obtain one, contact your local fire department or e-mail to learn about the Operation Save A Life smoke alarm installation program close to Where You Live!


According to the United States Fire Administration, approximately 85% of fire-related deaths occur in the home. Every year, more than 400 children under age ten die in home fires.

Fire and burns are the third leading cause of deaths that occur in the home, the third-leading cause of injury-related fatalities among children ages one to nine, and the fourth most prevalent cause for children ages ten to 14 in the United States. Many more could be prevented by following some prevention tips and precautions.

  • Follow safe cooking practices. Never leave food that is cooking unattended. Supervise children’s use of the stove, oven, or microwave and establish a three foot kid-free zone: an area for children and pets to stay clear of things that are hot.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms on every floor of the home and near every bedroom. Test them monthly and replace batteries at least annually. Keep smoke alarms away from air vents. Place smoke alarms at least four to six inches away from walls and corners.
  • Teach children that fire is not a toy, and can be dangerous.
  • Keep matches and lighters locked up and away from children.
  • Keep electrical cords and power strips from being pinched against walls. 
  • Do not overload electrical circuits or extension cords.
  • Shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or smell. Have them checked and repaired, or replaced.
  • Be careful when using portable heaters. Be sure bedding, clothing and other combustible items are at least three feet from space heaters. Plug portable heaters directly into the wall socket, and not into extension cords. Unplug the heater when it is not being used and when you leave the room. Never operate a portable heater when you go to bed.
  • Replace mattresses made prior to 2007, when flammability standards were implemented.
  • Use fireplace screens and have the chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a certified chimney sweep.

Fires occur quickly. In less than 30 seconds, a single flame can become a large fire. In two minutes, it can become life-threatening. In as little as four minutes, a residence can be destroyed. To protect yourself and your family, be prepared.

  • Have an escape plan, and practice the plan with children and everyone in your home. Learn two ways out of every room, and agree on a meeting place outside the building.
  • If you live in an apartment building, know the best route to the stairwell and emergency exits.
  • If you are in a room with a closed door when fire occurs, there are extra precautions:
    • Do not open the door if you see smoke under it.
    • If you don’t see smoke, check the door handle. If it is hot, do not open the door.
    • If you can open the door, and there is no smoke or heat, proceed quickly to your exit.
    • Stay low to the ground as you exit.
    • If you can’t get out right away, yell for help or call 911 if you have a phone. Do not hide in a closet or under a bed.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety would like to wish you and your family a safe holiday season Where You Live!


‘Tis the season to water your Christmas tree daily and use caution with candles and electric lights to keep this joyous time of year safe.

“Dried out, live trees are a fire danger. Always choose a fresh tree, keep it watered daily and keep it away from any heat source such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, or heat vents,” said Michigan State Fire Marshal Richard Miller. “If using an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled ‘flame-retardant,’ which indicates the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems and one in six are caused by a heat source too close to the tree. Statistics show Christmas tree fires are much more likely to cause death than average home fires and the risk of fire is higher with natural trees than artificial ones.

When buying a live tree, Miller said to make sure it’s as fresh as possible. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Needles should be green and hard to pull from the branches. Bounce the tree on the ground; if many needles fall off, it’s probably a dried-out, old tree that can be a fire hazard.

Once the tree is home, make a fresh cut of one to two inches at the base of the trunk to allow it to absorb water. Place the tree in a non-tip style holder with wide feet. Use only holiday lights that have been approved by a testing agency such as the Underwriters Laboratories and have a UL-tested label on them. LED lights are cooler and use less electricity than conventional lights.

“December is also the peak time of year for home candle fires,” said Miller. “More than half (56%), of such fires occur when candles are too close to anything that can catch on fire. Never use lighted candles on the tree. Keep candles up high enough away from children and pets and never leave home or go to bed with lights on or candles lit. Use battery-operated flameless candles instead.”

Additional holiday fire safety tips:

  • Don’t use any strings of lights that are frayed or broken; throw out damaged sets.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Place the tree as close to an electrical outlet as possible so that cords are not running long distances.  Do not cover up cords with rugs to hide them – this increases the fire hazard.
  • Remove your tree soon after the holidays.  Recycle it using your community’s pickup day if available. Don’t leave it in the house or garage.  Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • “Be sure your smoke alarms are in working order, have a fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it,” Miller said.  “Have a prepared and practiced home escape plan that will help insure your survival in a home fire.”

The Grandville Fire Department and E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire and Safety torched a Christmas tree to demonstrate the fire hazard when a tree is dried out. Watch this segment which aired on eightWest on December 19, 2013.

To see the U.S. Fire Administration video demonstrations showing how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be compared to a tree watered regularly, click here.


The holiday season can be one of the most dangerous seasons for fires. Firefighter Michael McLeieer of E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety has some special holiday fire prevention and safety tips.

Christmas Tree

  • Check the wiring on your tree
  • Look for loose ornaments that could become choking hazards
  • Use outlet covers


  • Stand by your pan
  • Use back burners first
  • Create a three foot kid-free zone


  • Keep medication out of reach of children


  • Reintroduce pets to young children, especially if they’re not used to them

Maranda sits down with Firefighter Michael McLeieer from E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety to talk about ways to stay safe during the holiday season Where You Live!

Candle Fire Safety

  • Keep a 1-foot circle of safety – a clear area around the candle.  Avoid placing candles near curtains, table cloths, or other things that can catch fire.
  • Put out the candle when you leave the room or go to bed.  Never leave a lit candle unattended.
  • A safer choice would be to use a battery operated candle instead of a real candle to prevent a fire.
  • Closely supervise children and pets when using a candle.

Smoke Alarms

  • During the holidays, think of giving the “gift of safety”.  Give smoke alarms, escape ladders and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are older than 10 years.
  • Replace carbon monoxide (CO) alarms that are older the 5-7 years.
  • Replace batteries in smoke and CO alarms when the clocks are changed for Daylight Saving Time or Eastern Standard time.

Kitchen Fire Safety

  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause for home fires.
  • Stand by Your Pan when cooking, broiling or frying.
  • Put a Lid on Pan fires on the stove, and turn of the burner and allow the pan to cool before moving it.
  • For oven fires, turn off the oven and close the oven door.  Evacuate everyone out of the home and call 911 from the meeting place once safely away from the home.
  • Use back burners first on the stove to prevent young children from reaching up and burning their hands.
  • Turn pan handles inward to prevent the hot contents from being spilled on people or pets.
  • Be Alert!  Never cook when you are drowsy, or have consumed alcohol or taken medication.

Space Heater Safety

  • Turn off a space heater when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended.
  • Portable heaters need space.  Keep a 3-foot area clear of the space heater.  Clothing, furniture and papers all can be fire hazards if placed too close to a portable heater.

Pet Safety

  • Create a 3-foot kid free zone from hot things (the stove, microwave and hot foods) to prevent burns.
  • Keep pets in another room, away from the kitchen and holiday action.
  • Introduce pets slowly to young children.  Pets can be easily scared of the quick actions of children.

Remember to give the gift of safety this holiday season, Where You Live!