Home Fire Safety Tips from Firefighters

Home Fire Safety Tips from Firefighters

Although it feels like more resources are created every day on fire safety, more than a quarter of reported fires are still home fires.

Though some home fires are caused by unavoidable circumstances, like wildfires; most could easily be prevented. The majority of home fires and fire casualties are caused by simple human error, like leaving pots and pans unattended while cooking, smoking inside the house, leaving flammable materials too close to open flames, etc. All of which are 100% preventable.

So, we asked our firefighter community on Facebook, “What steps we can we take to reduce our chances of causing a house fire?”, and here’s what they had to say:

Turn off the Stove

Cooking fires account for half of all home fires. Never leave a pan unattended, and if you have to walk away for a split second turn down your burner.

Watch Your Candles

Candles don’t have to be monitored as closely as pans, however, you should never leave the house or go outside with one burning. Candle placement is also important, they should sit far away from flammable material, like curtains, greenery, or fabric decor.

Eliminate Extension Cords

Extension cords are a serious fire hazard, over time they can deteriorate and potentially create a dangerous shock. Remember, extension cords are for temporary use only.

Keep Dryer Vents Clean

As your clothes are being dried, lint builds up in the vent. This lint is highly flammable and will cause a fire if it is not cleaned off properly. It is recommended to clean your dryer vent after every load.

Keep Debris & Brush Away from Your Home

Dead branches and leaves piled around your house can easily ignite and cause your home to go up in flames with it. At the end of fall, make sure all leaf piles are raked up or kept at least 10 ft away from your home.

Keep an Eye on the Space Heater

Space heaters cause thousands of home fires every year because of the heat they produce, they are an extreme fire hazard. If you use a space heater, never leave them unattended and keep them 3 ft away from flammable material.

Close the Door at Night

The best way to keep a fire contained is to shut the door. That is why firefighters recommend that you shut the door at night when you go to sleep.

Properly Dispose of Cigarettes

Smoking materials that are not put out properly cause almost of quarter of house fire deaths. If you smoke, smoke outside and use a glass or ceramic ashtray. It is also important to make sure embers are cool before disposing of them.

Test Smoke Alarms Regularly

Have a properly working smoke alarm can reduce your risk of dying in a fire by half! You should install a detector on every floor of your home and test them monthly.

Have an Emergency Kit 

If the worst should happen, make sure you and your family are prepared by building an emergency kit. It will save all of your important documents in case of a house fire.


The majority of firefighters agreed that the most important thing you can do to prevent a house fire, is to just simply be aware. If a house fire does break out, call 9-1-1 immediately.


Related Articles:

What You Need to Know About Smoke Dectectors & House Fires

Guest Blog: Tips for Homeowners and Renters from a Fire Prevention Officer

The 6 Most At-Risk Areas of Your Home


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.



Holiday Light Safety

Holiday Light Safety

Author, Sheryl Turner, is a grant writer for Nenana Volunteer Fire/EMS Department in Alaska and a member of the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Hi, Everyone…This past weekend we spent quality time with our Goddaughter and her family in Carlsbad, California. My husband and I live in Alaska, and our Goddaughter and her family live in Arizona. Best place to meet? Carlsbad works every time. Like many, we were celebrating the Holidays, enjoying being together and telling stories from years gone by. One of the subjects that came up was how decorating for the Holidays has changed over the years. This year, especially, we noticed that some stores started as early as October, just before or after Halloween, setting up Christmas displays and selling artificial trees! It surprised some of us that families seem to have also started decorating their Christmas trees a lot sooner than they have in past years.

As we drove around San Diego, La Jolla, and Carlsbad, California, we could not believe how many lights we saw. I told the kids that when my husband and I left Indiana last Thursday night, December 5th, I had never seen so many houses decorated, inside and out, this early in the season. The one thing that really surprised us, was how many people are using a traditional real pine tree, while others have elected to use an artificial tree.

As we discussed differences in the use of traditional or an artificial tree, our conversation shifted to sharing our thoughts on lights and decorations. Seeing that my husband and I have a law enforcement background and are now volunteers with the Nenana Volunteer Fire/EMS Department in Nenana, Alaska, and our Goddaughter’s family is with the Yuma, Arizona Fire Department, and the Department of Law Enforcement and Security at United States Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona, it did not take long for our conversation to shift and stay on the home fires caused by Christmas trees, and discuss tips and reminders that may help keep this year a safe and fire-free Holiday Season.

Our Goddaughter and I did some research online to see how many home fires are actually caused by faulty wiring, bad light bulbs, etc. (NFPA.org has really good information and Background Information). We checked various sights and compared the information. Overall, they all agree:

  •  Between the years of 2013-2017, U.S. Fire Departments responded to an average of 160 home fires per year that started with the Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of three deaths, fifteen injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage annually.
  •  On the average of every 52 reported, home fires began with a Christmas tree, resulted in a death. Compared to an average of one death per 135 total reported home fires.
  •  Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires.
  •  In 25% of the Christmas tree fires, a fire started because, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment was too close to the tree.
  •  Approximately 1/5 (21%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
  • Roughly ¾ of Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January.
  • Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.

Although we are well into the 2019 Holiday Season, we still need to remember fires do not start themselves. Remembering a few simple tips about protecting your home and family, and possibly your local firefighters, is a great place to start:

  1.  Place Your Christmas Tree in a Safe Place: Make sure when you put up your tree, it is at least three feet away from any heat sources, like radiators, fireplaces, and heating vents.
  2.  Check Light Strands Before Putting Them on the Tree – Before you begin decorating, make sure the wires on your lights are not frayed. Check each strand and replace lights for cracked, chipped, or unlit bulbs. Make sure the lights are working correctly.
  3.  Lights Out – Always turn the Christmas lights off before you go to bed.
  4.  Plug No More Than Three Strings of Lights into One Plug –  Plugging in more than three sets of Christmas lights into a single extension cord can be dangerous. Doing so may cause problems with overheating. However, it depends on both the strand’s wattage and the maximum watt capacity of the plug. If you are unsure of how to check the wattage, you can use a power strip with a built-in circuity breaker instead of your wall outlet.
  5.  LED Lights – If lights you are using are getting too hot, substitute and use LED Lights. They are not as hot as the traditional lights.
  6.  Hydrate Your Tree – It is important to keep your Christmas tree hydrated. Remember, other than overheated Christmas lights, fires are also caused by dry Christmas trees. A dry tree will be more flammable compared to the one that’s been properly watered. If you prefer a real Christmas tree, make sure you check the water every day to prevent the tree from drying out. However, if you’re not too attached to a real Christmas tree, it’s actually safer to purchase an artificial Christmas tree made from fire-resistant materials.
  7.  Take Your Tree Down – Don’t keep your Christmas tree up for very long. Once the needles begin to fall, the tree becomes at more risk of a fire starting.
  8.  Outdoor and Indoor Lights – Use outdoor lights outside and indoor lights inside. Christmas lights are labeled by their use, so you’ll notice a disclaimer that reads “for indoor use only” or “for indoor and outdoor use.” Make sure you read this carefully as indoor-only Christmas lights cannot be used for the outdoors. Indoor-only lights aren’t insulated like outdoor lights and won’t work with moisture from the outdoors. In fact, if indoor lights are exposed to water, snow or any other outdoor element, they could possibly become hazardous.
  9.  Use of Ladders – Since falls are the highest emergency room-related injury during the holidays, it’s important to know how to safely use a ladder when hanging Christmas lights off the roof of your home or in any other space that would require a ladder. Have a spotter with you at all times to hold the ladder for stability. When hanging Christmas lights, never extend your body further than parallel with the ladder to prevent tipping. Consider a wooden or fiberglass ladder when you’re working with Christmas lights to prevent an electric shock.
  10.  Use Christmas Light Clips, instead of nails or screws, when hanging outdoor Christmas lights on your roof. Don’t use nails or screws to secure the lights as they can puncture the wires, causing the lights to malfunction, or worse, shock the person installing them. Instead, opt for light clips found at any hardware store to secure the lights onto the house. The light clips are safer for the Christmas lights and will cause less damage to your roof, compared to nails or screws.
  11.  Need to Use an Extension Cord ? – If you need to use an extension cord or have a long strand of lights between your Christmas tree and outlet, make sure you secure all loose light strands with electrical tape to avoid tripping and falling. If you have loose light strands outdoors, secure them with ground staples found at any hardware store. Simply place the staple around the light and push as far as you can into the grass or other soft surfaces to secure the cord.
  12.  If you don’t have access to an outdoor outlet, you may find it challenging to light up your home this holiday season. Remember that you can’t run Christmas lights or extension cords through windows or doors. When closed on the light strand, windows and doors can cause wires to break or become frayed from constant pressure, making them a safety hazard for shocks or electric fires.
  13.  Use A GFCI Outlet for Outdoor Lights – There’s a specific outlet used for outdoor Christmas lights called a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. It prevents electric shock from electrical – systems that could be exposed to wet conditions, like rain or snow, acting as a circuit breaker. This is especially helpful if your outlet is outdoors. Make sure you protect yourself and your home from electric shorts by purchasing a GFCI outlet. You might need to hire a licensed electrician to install this outlet or you can install it yourself.
  14.  Don’t Forget to Turn Off the Lights – Christmas tree lights should not be left on for prolonged periods of time or overnight. Even LED lights can overheat, and with a combination of a dry Christmas tree, could cause a fire. Make it a habit to turn off your Christmas lights every time you leave the house or go to bed at night. To make it easier, purchase a light timer for your Christmas tree lights and set it to a time to turn off every night and back on the next day. You can also buy a wireless control to shut off your lights through an app on your phone. Not only could this save your home from a fire, but it could also save you money in electricity bills.
  15.  Be Sure to Store Lights Properly Until Next Season – When the holiday season is over, make sure you don’t slack on putting away your decorations. Check the local laws of your city for how long you can keep up your holiday decorations. Some cities will ticket homes who have their holiday decorations up past a certain date. Store all outdoor and indoor Christmas lights in a well-sealed container to prevent water damage and rodent access. Knowing how to properly install and maintain your Christmas lights could save you money in electricity bills, prevent you or a loved one from getting an electric shock and eliminate the chance of a home fire. Follow these tips this holiday season to keep you and your home safe.

We all need to stay aware of what is happening around us. Be observant. Watch for Christmas lights that are not working; something against the cord that could start a fire; animals climbing the Christmas tree and being in danger; leaving lights on when no one is home; not turning lights off before going to bed. Remind our families, colleagues, friends, everyone about the chances of Christmas trees starting a home fire that cannot be stopped. It only takes a spark to start a fire…

My family and I wish you all a very happy and safe holiday.

Sheryl TurnerSheryl Ann Turner
Grant Writer
Nenana Volunteer Fire/EMS Department

Fire Prevention Tips for the Holidays

Fire Prevention Tips for the Holidays

As you bustle about getting ready for the holidays, please be careful. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the winter solstice, the season comes with an increased risk. Home fires peak this time of year and the joy of the holiday season can turn tragic if you don’t take these precautions. Here are some Fire Prevention Tips for the Holidays to keep you and your family safe.

In the Kitchen

The majority of home fires start in the kitchen. Whether you are frying a turkey or baking a pie, keep aware and be present. The majority of these fires were caused by leaving something on the stove, in the oven, and placing flammable material too close to a burner. More cooking fires occur during the holiday season than any other days of the year. Please observe these safe kitchen and cooking recommendations:

  • Never leave food on the stove or in the oven unattended
  • Always keep dishtowels, mitts and other flammables away from burners
  • Remove long sleeves or other loose clothing that could come in contact with burners or flames
  • Avoid consuming alcohol when cooking
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand
  • Have a lid nearby to smother small grease fires


Holiday Trees and Decorations

Fire departments across the country are warning about the increased danger as we bring in trees and light up our homes. The over the past few years, Christmas trees caused an average of 210 home structure fires, with most occurring during the month of December. The incidence of candles caused fires also escalates during the holidays.

Here are some important tips to prevent holiday fires

  • Make sure real trees are fresh and needles don’t fall off when touched
  • Cut two inches from the base of the trunk and immediately put it in a stand with water
  • Add water every day
  • Keep trees at least three feet from any heat source (fireplaces, space heaters, candles, heat vents)
  • Check artificial trees for a “fire-resistant” label
  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory (UL)
  • Always turn off tree lights before going to bed or leaving home
  • Never use candles to decorate a tree
  • If you use real candles around the home, keep them 12 inches away from anything that can burn and always blow them out when you leave a room or go to bed
  • Don’t use frayed or damaged electrical cords
  • Never connect more than one extension cord and make sure they are not stretched



California Casualty wants everyone to have a safe and happy holiday.


Related Articles:

5 Proven Tips for Fighting Winter Fires

What You Need to Know About Smoke Detectors & House Fires

Guest Blog: Tips for Homeowners and Renters from a Fire Prevention Officer


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Pennsylvania Firefighter Gets Garage of His Dreams

Bethlehem, PA, December 6, 2019 – Kyle Albrecht’s holidays just got much better, thanks to the $7,500 Garage Makeover Sweepstakes from California Casualty. Kyle was presented with the grand prize Thursday during a staff meeting at the Nancy Run Fire Station. Kyle was one of 16,000 first responders who entered the contest.

Kyle anticipates using the funds for tool storage and other accessories for his garage. “I am super surprised and beyond excited,” he said. “The timing is perfect; my wife and I bought our forever home last year and we just purchased a storage shed so we could clean out the garage to make it more useful.”

Kyle, whose father was a firefighter, knew he wanted to be in the fire service since his teens. He is a volunteer firefighter/paramedic for the Nancy Run Fire Company and is a full-time 911 dispatcher.

“I really enjoy helping others and love what I do. Our fire department serves Bethlehem Township and surrounding areas with fire suppression, emergency medical care, and fire prevention and education services.”

Kyle is on a personal mission to inform his community about the importance of fire and emergency safety. “I ask anyone who reads this to learn CPR and check their smoke detectors,” he said.

Kyle admits that he works hard and uses family time to relax and recharge after long days at work. “My family and kids are the most important part of my life, I do it all for them,” he said.

California Casualty initiated the $7,500 Garage Makeover contest to say thanks to first responders, who face dangers every day protecting people and property in their communities.

“We are thankful for the tough job first responders do every day for all of us,” said California Casualty Sr. Vice President Mike McCormick. “We wanted to show our appreciation and provide a useful way to say thanks.”

“I don’t do the work I do for recognition, but it is great when a company like California Casualty acknowledges the hard work that we do. It makes me extremely grateful,” Kyle added.

California Casualty has been insuring first responders since 1969, offering auto and home insurance with outstanding benefits.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

A Day With Firefighters – Journey’s Experience

day with firefighters
A day with firefighters

A Day With Firefighters – Journey’s Experience

Join 8-year old Journey for a special behind the scenes look in to a day in the life of a Firefighter. Watch as he learns why fire stations have sleeping quarters. See what happens when a call comes in – even at 2 in the morning. Plus, find out how heavy fire gear really is.

As a special bonus, check out Journey demonstrate his dynamic STOP, DROP and ROLL moves! 

Be sure to check out the other videos in our Heroes series at https://mycalcas.com/leoheroesvideo/. Or check out California Casualty’s  YouTube Channel.

We’d like to extend an extra special thanks to the Firefighters and Police Officers who took the time to participate in our Heroes Video Series. It was a privilege to experience a day in your lives through the eyes of Giselle, Jayden and Journey! We appreciate your dedication and all you do to strengthen and enhance the quality of life in American communities.  
The Heroes Video Series was filmed and produced by Wide Awake Films.
If you’re not already following California Casualty, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.
At California Casualty, our mission is to provide trusted, personalized auto and home insurance protection.  exclusively for educators, law enforcement, nurses and firefighters—those who protect, strengthen and enhance the quality of life in American communities.

First Responder Discounts

First Responder Discounts

Firefighters, Police Officers, and EMTs put their lives on the line every day, while also finding time to serve their communities. Whether they are saving lives by running into burning buildings, comforting the scared when tragedy strikes, or just simply having fun in their community like joining in on a pick-up basketball game around or turning a fire hydrant into a sprinkler for a group of kids in the summer; they deserve to be recognized.

So, we have rounded up a list of companies that offer discounts to first responders as a, “thank you” to these brave men and women for what they do on the job and in their communities every single day.

Each store is linked for you convenience, just click on the stores name, and it will direct you to their discount page!


Steak ‘n Shake: offers 20% off to first responders when in uniform

Firehouse Subs: Firefighters get a free drink with every meal

Shoney’s: offers 15% to first responders

Schlotsky’s: offers 15% off to first responders

ATKINS: offers 15% off bars and shakes to first responders

Golden Corral: offers a 10% off to first responders with ID

Outback Steakhouse: offers 10% off to first responders with ID

El Pollo Loco: offers a 15% discount to first responders with proof of employment

Chipotle: offers discounts to first responders with ID, however the amount is dependent upon the location. Please check with your local Chipotle.

*Disclaimer: be sure to check that these discounts apply at your local restaurant*



NFLShop.com: offers 15% off an online purchase and free shipping for first responders with ID

MLB.com Shop: offers 15% off for first responders with ID

NHL.com Shop: offers 15% off discount for first responders verified through ID.me

OakleySI.com:  offers up to 50% off merchandise, when you register for an account with your first responder ID

Yeti: offers first responder discounts when you sign up with the program ID.me with your ID. Over 400 other brands (like Costco, Vera Bradley, AudioBooks.com, Sunglass Hut, Tervis, and Reebok) have discounts for military and first responders on ID.me, and sign up is free!

Under Armour: offers 10% off to first responders with ID

Dickies: offers 10% off your total purchase

Gerber Gear: offers first responders exclusive pricing through their Pro Program

Jockey: offers 10% off to first responders with ID

Lululemon: offers 25% off to first responders with ID

Frank and Oak: offers 10% off to first responders with ID

Columbia: offers exclusive discounts to members of government agencies that work outdoors when you sign up for their Professional Purchase Program

GOVX: membership offered to all first responders, which will go you 65% off hundreds of retail brands, discounted sports/concert tickets, and even discounted deals travel packages, hotels, amusement parks, and rental cars

Electronics & More

Apple: offers government employees discounts on Mac, IOS devices, and 3rd party products

Sprint: offers up to 25% off monthly service plans for first responders

Verizon: offers 15% off eligible plans and 25% off online accessories for first responders

AT&T: offers 25% off unlimited plans and $15 off monthly TV/Internet rates to active first responders

GameStop: offers 10% off at select outlets with first responder badge or ID

Carid: offers discount to all first responders with a first responder ID

Glock: offer special first responder discounts exclusively through its Blue Label Program

Shooter’s Pro Shop: offers a 10% off discount to first responders when they create and a Shooter’s account

Urban Ops Armory: offers exclusive discounts to first responders with proof of current employment submit a request to: support@uoarmory.com

Wolverine Supplies: offers a 10% discount with a first responder ID

Lockhart Tactical: offer 10% off select brands when you sign up for their Honor Program with a first responder ID

Primary Arms: offers 10% off select brands to first responders with ID, restrictions apply.

FN America: offers discounts to first responders through their LEMD Program

Leatherman: offers discounts to first responders through their Pro Program

Dunamis Rods: offers 20% off fishing rods to first responders, contact customer service for the code at: service@DunamisRods.com


Happy shopping! 🙂

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.800.800.9410 or www.calcas.com.


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