Popular decorations such as twinkling lights and Christmas trees can increase the chances of a house fire during the holiday season.
Nearly 400 fires involving Christmas trees and holiday lights occur each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration. These fires result in 21 deaths and more than $25 million in property damage.
Don’t let the holidays go up in smoke. Stay safe with these tips.
Have a real Christmas tree? Keep it watered
Don’t forget to water your Christmas tree regularly. A dry tree can ignite when exposed to shorts in electrical lights or open candle flames, according to the USFA. Keep your tree away from heat sources that could dry it out, such as fireplaces and heat vents. Don’t smoke near your Christmas tree.
While Christmas tree fires are not common, they are likely to be serious when they occur, according to the NFPA.
New Baltimore Fire Chief Ken Lawfield said, “We have been very fortunate in the city of New Baltimore. I have been fire chief here for almost eight years and I can only think of one incident were there has been an issue with Christmas decorations.”
Check holiday lights for hazards
If your holiday lights have frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, or excessive kinking or wear, the USFA says they can be dangerous. If wires feel warm, they could be dangerous.
Lawfield suggests decorating trees and homes with lighting equipment that is listed by UL, a global, independent product safety certification organization.
Limit the use of extension cords and do not overload them, Lawfield further advised. Do not run extension cords under rugs or carpets and keep them out of the walkway.
Candle care and other decorations
Keep open flames from candles, lighters and matches away from Christmas trees, the USFA instructs.
Lawfield added, “do not leave a candle unattended. Make sure the candle is well away from anything that could burn. Extinguish the candle before retiring for the evening.”
Make sure all holiday decorations are nonflammable or flame-retardant.
Do not put wrapping paper in the fireplace. The USFA says this can result in a chimney fire.
Lastly, make sure you have working smoke alarms, Lawfield noted.