‘Tis the season to be jolly. And to make sure it stays jolly, the County Office of Emergency Services is reminding you to make sure those eye-catching and festive holiday decorations are also safe.
“Trees, lights or candles may all be part of your yearly tradition,” said Holly Crawford, director of the Office of Emergency Services. “If they are, it’s wise to make a few safety considerations part of the tradition, too.”
This is not meant as a bah humbug, but dry trees, second rate or damaged lights and candles are pretty fire hazards. But you can take measures to reduce the risk.
For one, if you’re heading to the Christmas tree lot soon, look for a healthy, green tree. Needles should not break easily, and the trunk should be a bit sticky to the touch.
To make sure the tree is not too dry, pick it up and tap it on the ground a few times. If a bunch of needles fall off, it’s probably dried out and old. Pick a different one.
You might want to wait another week or so to buy that tree, because after more than a couple weeks on display, a cut live tree gets dry. To keep it as moist as possible, the base should be cut at an angle, and the tree should be in a stand you keep filled with water.
Also, make sure you place away from fireplaces or heat vents that can dry it out.
And of course, place the tree so it doesn’t block any exits. Same goes for that six-foot plastic Frosty the Snowman, and any other decorations.
A few more tips for a safe holiday season: (Source: U.S. Fire Administration)
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!
- Use only nonflammable decorations.
- All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace
- Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.
Avoid lit candles
- Consider using battery-operated flameless candles
If You Do Use Lit Candles
- Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn, and make sure they are out of reach of children and pets. Never leave a room or go to bed with candles burning.
Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
- Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame—candles, lighters or matches.
—County News Center