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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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