Don't let fire ruin your holidays. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, American homes will suffer an estimated 128,700 fires during this holiday season. Based on averages from past years, those fires will result in an estimated 1,650 injuries, 415 deaths and almost $25.5 million in property damage.
Rancho Cordova's Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling, specialists in fire, water and mold damage restoration services, offers this holiday advice to keep danger at bay:
Holiday decorations: Use noncombustible, flame-resistant materials. Never use lighted candles on a tree, evergreens or other flammable materials. Also, keep candles or open flames away from drapes or upholstery. Don't leave candles burning when you're not at home or after you go to bed. Be aware of toxic decorations (such as mistletoe berries) that may be poisonous to pets or children.
Lights: Check for loose connections, broken or cracked sockets or frayed wires. Use UL-approved lighting. Fasten lights to the tree and prevent bulbs from coming in contact with the needles or branches. Turn off all holiday lights when leaving home or retiring for the evening.
Trees: Be sure a natural tree is fresh and less likely to become a fire hazard. Cut 2 inches off the trunk and place in a sturdy water stand, then water daily. Keep the tree away from fireplaces, wall furnaces and other heat sources. Or use a fire-resistant artificial tree.
Portable space heaters: Place space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything combustible and operate only when you are in the room. Never leave a space heater on overnight or near children and pets.
Cooking: Avoid wearing loose clothing that can be ignited by hot burners. Turn pot handles "in" (toward the stove); they're less likely to get knocked off. Don't store items on top of the stove; they can catch fire. Turn off kitchen appliances after use. Turkey fryers should be used outdoors and away from buildings and flammable materials.
Fire escape plan: Know your escape routes. Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, laundry room and garage. Never burn evergreens, papers or other decorations in the fireplace. Working smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home; test them monthly and replace batteries every six months.
Know who to call: In case of an emergency, keep contact numbers handy, such as police and fire departments, doctors and the national poison help line.
For more tips and restoration advice, click on www.pdrestoration.com.
Is a frosty night in the forecast? Mulch, water and cover to protect tender plants. Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Be sure to remove coverings during the day.
Brighten the holidays with potted poinsettias and amaryllis. Indoors, poinsettias will last longer if placed in a warm sunny location away from heating vents or drafts. Poke holes in the foil wrapper for drainage and place the potted plant on a plate or saucer.
Outdoors, add color to the garden with calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.
Time to get the tulips out of the fridge and into the ground. Also plant such spring-flowering bulbs as daffodils, callas and Dutch iris.
Bare-root season has begun. Besides fruit trees and rose bushes, plant dormant cane berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.
Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
After storms, dump standing water that may have collected in saucers under potted plants to avoid root rot.