Fire safety tips for New Year’s celebrations

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The holidays are a time for families and friends to get together. But that also means a greater risk for fire. Whether you are getting ready to do some holiday entertaining at home or headed out to a party to ring in the New Year, State Fire Marshal Charles Duffy suggests following these simple tips to ensure a celebration that is both festive and fire-safe.

House parties
-Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
-Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
-Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
-Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
-Ask smokers to smoke outside. Provide deep ashtrays and wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.

Nightclubs and other public assembly buildings
Before you enter
-Is the building in a condition that makes you feel comfortable? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of materials that may block exits?
-Have a communication plan. Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency.
-Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends if there is an emergency.

Once inside
-Look for all available exits and be prepared to use the closest one.
-Make sure aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained.
-Are there fire sources such as candles burning, cigarettes or cigars burning, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that may make you feel unsafe? Are there safety systems in place such as alternative exits, sprinklers, and smoke alarms?

During an emergency
If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or other unusual disturbance, exit the building immediately.
Once you are out, stay out. Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. Let trained firefighters conduct rescue operation.

Fireworks
-If you want to ring in the New Year with fireworks, the safest way is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
-If you purchase fireworks, be sure they are legal to possess and discharge. Know the dates and times fireworks are allowed in your community.
-Talk with family members and guests about the fireworks laws for your area. Laws restricting or banning the use of fireworks in cities and counties are listed on the fireworks website.
-Stay away from illegal explosive devices such as M80’s and M100’s. These items are not fireworks, they are illegal explosive devices. The damage they cause can be devastating and life altering. Fireworks and alcohol are a dangerous combination.

For more information about fire safety, visit the State Fire Marshal website at www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/firemars.htm.

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