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Winter Fire Safety

Albuquerque Fire Rescue is committed to making every holiday season safe and joyous for all the citizens of Albuquerque.

Recognize the importance of fire safety in our homes. It is critically important to be highly alert to the fire dangers that exist during the holiday season and throughout the year. Each year fires during the Holiday Season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage.

Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

  • Have a certified chimney sweep clean and inspect your chimney and fireplace or creosote build-up, cracks, crumbling bricks and obstructions.
  • Place fireplace or wood stove ashes outdoors in a covered metal container at least 3 ft away from anything that can burn.
  • Don't burn trash including gift wrapping. The wrapping may ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.

Portable Heaters

Portable heaters need at least 3 ft of empty space between the heater and everything else like furniture, curtains, papers and people.

  • Make sure the heater is UL approved and has a tip-over shut off function.
  • Check the cord and make sure it is not frayed. If frayed, it is time for a new heater.
  • Never use extension cords with portable heaters. It is a common cause of fire.
  • An Adult must always be present when a space heater is used around children.
  • Always turn off portable heaters when family members leave the house or are sleeping.

Christmas Trees

There are 300 fires and 30 injuries resulting from Christmas tree fires each year.

  • Trees need about an inch cut off the end of the trunk. This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb water.
  • Make sure and mount the tree securely and away from any combustible materials or heat sources such as fireplaces or candles.
  • Water the tree everyday.
  • When the needles get brittle or dull and begin to fall from the tree, it is time for the tree to go back outside.
  • There are 300 fires and 30 injuries resulting from Christmas tree fires each year .


  • Use lights that are UL approved. Check every set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connect ions before using. Throw away anything that is not in perfect condition.
  • Use no more than three sets of lights per single extension. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Always turn off all tree lights and decorations before you go to bed or leave your home.

Candles and Luminarias

  • Never place a burning candle or luminaria near anything that can quickly ignite, such as curtains, Christmas trees, brush, etc.
  • Always keep candles and luminaries away from children and pets as they could get burned if touched.
  • Never place candles or luminaries on combustible surfaces such as wood porches or near dry grass or leaves.
  • Never light luminaries during windy conditions where the bag can be ignited and burning debris could spread the fire.
  • Keep candles and luminaries away from other decorations.
  • Be sure candles have sturdy/stable bases and are placed where they can not be bumped or brushed against.
  • Always monitor candles and luminaries when burning, never leave the room or go to bed without fully extinguishing the flame.

Smoke Alarms

  • Working smoke alarms alert you to a fire and more than double your chances of surviving a fire.
  • Install smoke alarms in every home, on every level, outside each sleeping area and in each bedroom.
  • Test your smoke alarms each month to make sure they are working.
  • Replace batteries twice a year when daylight savings occurs.
  • Replace smoke alarms every ten years or sooner if broken.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, get out fast!

Have an Escape Plan

It is essential to have an escape plan. It could mean life or death.

  • Plan your escape- know two ways out of every room
  • Have a "safe" spot that everyone meets at across the street.
  • Practice at least once a month so everyone knows what to do if a fire does occur.

Cold Related Emergencies

As the fall turns into winter, the temperature has dropped to record lows and it is vital that we protect ourselves and our loved ones from the dangerous cold weather. Anytime we leave our homes we must dress to prevent cold emergencies. From shopping for the holidays, running errands or just going to work, it is important to dress in layers and drink water to prevent dehydration.

Hypothermia: Three stages

  1. Mild- (body temp 90-95 degrees) earliest stages of hypothermia characterized by slurred speech or having difficulty speaking, cool skin and excessive shivering.
  2. Moderate- (85-90 degrees) as body temperature drops, victims become dazed. Shivering will stop at about 89.0 degrees and will be replaced with muscular rigidity, followed shortly by the loss of voluntary movement.
  3. Severe- (less than 78 degrees) victims become unresponsive with irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.

Safety Tips

Limit your exposure. If you must go out do so during mid day when the sun is the strongest and the temperature at it’s highest. Check on elderly neighbors and relatives.


Wear several layers of clothing- including a waterproof and or wind proof outermost layer. Also always wear a hat and gloves. Our head is a great source of heat loss for our body (30-40%). Ears and fingertips as well as noses are extremely susceptible to frost nip and frost bite.


Avoid Alcoholic beverages. Contrary to popular belief alcohol does not warm the body. In fact it has an opposite effect by causing vasodilation and decreasing the body’s natural insulating properties. It also suppresses shivering and impairs judgment.

Who is most susceptible?

  • Very old- May be unaware of their limitations. Due to limited mobility may be forced to spend increased amount of time exposed to the cold weather due to slow movement.
  • Very young- Thermo regulatory system is still immature. Babies rely on adults for warmth. If possible, stay home. If you must go out, dress the baby in layers and cover the head, hands and feet.

Pet Safety

Pets rely on their owners for warmth. Bring pets indoors at night to protect from the frigid temperatures. During the day, use fresh hay and/or blankets in the dog house to keep the pets protected.

  • Shelter should be elevated off the ground
  • Shelter should be insulated
  • Doghouse should be wind-tight
  • Shelter should be water-proof