Keep your holidays safe and happy

A festive candle display

The holiday season is right around the corner — that special time of year when you brighten your home with scented candles and twinkling lights. Although decorating your home creates a cheerful atmosphere, it also brings an increased risk of accidental fire. These safety tips will help you avoid potential hazards.

Decorative Lighting

  • Buy only lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab.
  • Check each set for damaged or frayed wire insulation or cords, cracks in lamp holders or loose connections.
  • Use no more than three strands of lights for each extension cord.
  • Avoid covering lights with cloth, paper or any material that is not part of the lighting.
  • Ensure lights you place outside are specifically labeled for outdoor use.
  • Connect all outside lighting to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting (GFCI) outlet.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, your house or other firm structures — away from sharp hooks and nails.
  • Unplug all holiday lighting before leaving the house or going to bed.

Candles

  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials.
  • Use sturdy, non-flammable holders large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over, or where blinds and curtains can close over them.
  • Keep wicks trimmed to one quarter inch.
  • Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they are within two inches of the holder and votive candles within a half inch.
  • Put out all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.

Trees

  • Select a tree that is fresh and well maintained. Never purchase one with dry or dropping needles.
  • Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption.
  • Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them water every day.
  • If you buy an artificial tree, make sure it's labeled as fire-retardant.
  • Set your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.
  • Place near an outlet so cords don't have to run long distances.
  • Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles.

Holiday Fire Facts

  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2009 and 2013, 210 home fires started with a tree.
  • One of every three home tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • A heat source too close to the tree caused approximately one in four fires.
  • The risk of fire is higher with natural trees than artificial trees.
  • More than half of home candle fires occur when something flammable is too close to the candle.
  • Holiday decorative lighting with line voltage is to blame for an average of 150 home fires each year.

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