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10 tips for a safe holiday season

Oct 25, 2016 10:22AM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines

With winter weather and the holiday season fast approaching, many people are preparing for family festivities and good cheer. The increased risk of home fires during the holiday season is often overlooked. Holiday activities such as cooking, decorating and candle usage significantly contribute to the seasonal causes of home fires. Did you know that the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve according to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)? Here are some quick tips to help keep the season festive and safe for everybody.

• If you have an artificial tree, be sure it’s labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.

• If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched; before placing it in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to water it daily.

• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.

• Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory, and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.

• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.

• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.

• Consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles. If you use traditional candles, keep them at least 12" away from anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when you leave the room.

• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.

• After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside the home.

• Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

Keeping these fire prevention tips and safety measures in mind can greatly reduce the risk of fire in your home this holiday season. For more information, visit nfpa.org/holiday.

John Lucas is Battalion Chief of the Batavia Fire Department       

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