‘Tis the season to deck the halls, but don’t forget to keep fire safety in mind. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fires that occur during the holiday season claim the lives of more than 400 people, injure 1,650 people or more, and cause over $990 million in damage each year. Follow these tips to prevent holiday fires.
Select a fresh tree. Needles should be green and attached firmly to the branches, and they should not break if the tree is freshly cut. Don’t place the tree near a heat source, such as a heat vent or fireplace. Keep the tree stand filled with water to keep it moist, and don’t leave the tree up longer than two weeks. When it becomes dry, discard it immediately.
Inspect holiday lights each year. Check for frayed wires and burned out bulbs before putting the lights on the tree. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Periodically check the wires to make sure they are not warm to the touch. Link no more than three light strands, don’t overload the electrical outlets, and don’t leave lights on unattended.
Use nonflammable decorations. Keep decorations away from heat vents or fireplaces. Avoid putting wrapping paper in a fireplace, which can throw off dangerous sparks and cause a large fire. Artificial or metallic trees should be flame retardant.
Avoid using lit candles. But if you do use them, make sure their holders are stable, and place them where they won’t be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning. Don’t go near a Christmas tree with an open flame (candle, match or lighter).
Most important, install smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly. The holiday season can add extra stress to most everyone's lives. Take care of what is important and share in the wonderous of the season.