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Departments / Protective Services / Fire /

Holiday Safety Tips

Lights

Maintain Your Holiday Lights: Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets: Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on unattended.

Decorations

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations: All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace: It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.

Tree Safety

Holiday Tree Fire Hazards: Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

Selecting a Tree for the Holiday: Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Tree: Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree: Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Candle Safety

  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Keep candles away from things that can catch fire, such as clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, or decorations.
  • Place candles on stable furniture in sturdy holders that won’t tip over and that are big enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Don’t place lit candles in windows, where they may ignite blinds or curtains.
  • Place candles only in areas where they won’t be knocked over by children or pets.
  • Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Extinguish votive and filled candles before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
  • Avoid candles with combustible materials embedded in them, or with holders or decorations that could ignite.
  • Don’t allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.