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Christmas decorations often are associated with the magic of Christmas lights and Christmas trees. Following a few safety recommendations can prevent fire and electrical mishaps, preserving these happy memories

Christmas Trees

Placement of Christmas tree: One in four winter fires are associated with a heat source close to the Christmas tree. Christmas trees should have a distance of at least three feet from radiators or heat vents, heaters, a fireplace, overhead lights, and candles. The tree should not block any exit from the room.

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Choosing a Christmas tree: The fresher the tree the better. Dried out branches or a poorly hydrated tree can present a fire risk. Choose a tree stand that has a large water reserve. Keep the tree in water. Discard tree promptly after the holiday

Christmas Lights:

Christmas lights safety involves attention to and awareness of several issues:

When purchasing electric lights look for the UL seal. This indicates that lights are approved by the American National Standards Institute.

Read Manufacturer’s directions before you start.

Inspect Christmas lights carefully. All damaged or missing bulbs must be replaced prior to stringing lights.

Remember indoor lights and outdoor lights are not interchangeable. Do not use indoor lights outdoors, or outdoor lights indoors

Water can conduct electricity. Therefore, outdoor lights should be waterproof. Avoid resting outdoor lights directly on the ground. The ground is often damp, and subject to water in the form of rain, snow, ice, and puddles. Stakes are available to string lights above ground.

Metal can conduct electricity. Therefore, avoid using metal when working with electric lights. When stringing lights from a ceiling or roof, avoid metal ladders. Wood or fiberglass ladders do not conduct electricity. Nonmetallic clips that do not conduct electricity are safe.

Check manufacturer’s instructions for maximum number of light sets that can be strung together. The UL seal ensures products have been tested for safety. It is important, given potential risks, to look for the seal.

Outdoor lights should be connected to GFCI receptacle to prevent circuit overload.

Candle fire facts:

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During the five-year period of 2015-2019:

  • Candles caused 2% of reported home fires, 3% of home fire deaths, 6% of home fire injuries, and 4% of the direct property damage in home fires.
  • Roughly one-third (37%) of home candle fires started in bedrooms. These fires caused 35% of the associated deaths and 47% of the associated injuries.
  • Falling asleep was a factor in 10% percent of the home candle fires and 12% of the associated deaths.
  • On average, 20 home candle fires were reported per day.
  • Three of every five (60%) of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle.
  • Candle fires peak in December and January with 11 percent of candles fires in each of these months.

If you do burn candles, make sure that you…

• Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily.

• Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.

• Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.

• Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.

• Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.

• Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.

Tips that apply to holiday celebrations in general:

Turn off all lights indoors and outdoors prior to bedtime. Position candles away from decorations.

Do not leave any flame unattended.

Remember to extinguish all candles prior to leaving a room.

It is important to monitor all food as it cooks on stove top.

Do not leave oven on if no one is home.

Do not leave children and pets unattended in a room where there is a flame and make sure that children do not have access to lighters or matches. If there is smoking, provide a large ashtray to prevent ashes from falling to floor. When finished, douse butts with water to make sure they are not smoldering and discard in garbage.

And as usual, remember the general fire safety advice:

  • Check smoke alarms and make sure they are functioning.
  • Remind family, friends, and overnight guests of your fire escape plan.
  • Have a fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it.
  • Keep an eye on children and pets.