With the holidays around the corner, many of us will be putting up lights, cooking for long hours and lighting candles. While all of these things give you that wonderful holiday feeling, they also put you at a greater risk for fires. According to the United State Fire Administration (USFA) and National Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA), home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season.

Keeping your family safe does not have to mean spending hundreds of dollars or even blowing out all of your candles. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms according to the NFPA. Here are a few things you can do to make sure that you have a working smoke alarm and to keep your family safe.

Locate and Test Your Batteries

Testing your batteries can be one of the easiest things you can do to help your family stay safe. The NFPA recommends testing each of your smoke alarm batteries at least once a month. You might think that your alarm will start to chirp when the battery is getting low, but that is not always the case. Make sure to press the button down until you hear a loud beep to test the battery.

It is also important that you locate all of your smoke alarms to make sure that they are working properly and that you have enough alarms. A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms.There should be one smoke alarm for every 2-3 rooms in your house, which means that larger homes need more than one alarm. Make sure that when you test your alarms, you are testing every alarm in your home.

Replace Old Detectors

After a smoke detector is over 10 years old, it may begin to malfunction, according to the NFPA. It is recommended that all smoke detectors nearing 10 years or older are replaced. Getting a smoke detector does not have to be expensive either, and will save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough Fire Rescue Foundation have teamed up to create Project Safe in an effort to keep families safe this holiday season. If you live in unincorporated Hillsborough County, Project Safe will install working smoke detectors in your home at no cost. All you have to do is email or call 813- 272-6600 to schedule an installation.

Make a Plan

While keeping your smoke detectors up to date is important and life saving, it is also important to make a plan. Make sure that your kids know what to do in the event of a fire, and practice escaping the home through windows. Make sure that windows are not blocked with heavy or bulky furniture- especially in the kids’ rooms.

You should also make sure that your family is turning off indoor and outdoor Christmas lights, keeping lit candles away from animals and flammable decorations, like the Christmas tree or curtains, and make sure that you are blowing out those candles every night before bed. You may even want to test the smoke detectors out at night to make sure that everyone can hear

them from their bedrooms if the doors are closed. The goal is not to frighten the kids, but to make sure that they understand the importance of safety in a fire. They should also know to go to the road away from the house if there is a fire, and should learn not to pour baking soda or water on a grease fire in the kitchen.

The holidays can be made just a little safer with a fire safety plan and with the help of a great smoke detector. For more information on Project Safe, visit