Need gift ideas for Christmas? Think fire safety

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Show the people you care about that you are mindful of their personal safety by giving creative, practical presents that will protect them from fire this holiday season and throughout the year.

Here are some suggestions from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

n Smoke alarms. If a fire occurs, having a smoke alarm cuts the chance of dying nearly in half.  Consider smoke alarms for everyone on your list. Smoke alarms for people who are deaf or hard of hearing include strobe lights, high decibels and/or vibration. All smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years.

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n Flashlights for emergency lighting instead of candles, to avoid the risk of fire from an open flame.

n Sturdy candleholders to prevent tip-over when candles are lit.

n A sturdy fireplace screen, to keep embers out of the room.

n Gift certificates for clean-up services to remove clutter that could give fires a place to start or trip you up if you need to escape quickly if fire occurs. Chimney sweeps can reduce oily creosote build-up in chimneys that can be easily ignited, and many chimney sweeps provide more comprehensive fire inspection, maintenance, and clean-up services.

n Warm nightwear or bedding to reduce the need for space heaters, particularly at night. Space heaters (fixed and portable) are the equipment involved in three-fourths of home heating fire deaths, and NFPA recommends they be turned off at night when people go to sleep.

n Nightwear or bathrobes with tight-fitting sleeves that will stay well away from cooking flames and hot surfaces like stove burners.

n Large, deep, sturdy ashtrays. If family members or friends smoke, using appropriate ashtrays can prevent smoking materials from igniting upholstered furniture, bedding or other nearby combustibles.

n Portable fire extinguishers, with clear instructions on how to use them, as well as strong encouragement to the gift recipient to learn the rules of safe extinguisher usage so they will be ready if fire occurs.

n Oven mitts for handling cooking equipment, tableware or cookware and especially to permit safe placement of a lid on a stove pan to smother a small fire.