Eastside Fire & Rescue offers safety tips after holiday-related fires

December 23, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 2 p.m. Dec. 23, 2012

Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters have responded to blazing involving holiday decorations and Christmas trees as the holiday approaches.

Decorations can increase the chances of fire and with the holiday only days away, agency officials asked the public to keep fire safety in mind when decorating and entertaining.

The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when fire occurs.

Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration, about 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights, unattended candles and other holiday decorations occur each year.

Holiday fires most often involve defective holiday lights, unattended candles and dried-out Christmas trees.

Make sure to have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of a home, outside of each sleeping area and in each bedroom.

By taking simple precautions, people can avoid potential fire hazards. Officials offered some tips to avoid problems during the holiday season:

  • If your household includes a natural tree, be sure to water your tree daily.
  • Place the tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, woodstove, heating duct or radiator.
  • Keep candles away from the Christmas tree.
  • Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
  • Always unplug tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • After the holiday season, promptly dispose of trees and other greenery, such as garland, before it dries out.
  • Burning a tree in a stove or fireplace is dangerous; proper disposal includes recycling or pick-up by a disposal service.

A safe alternative is to use battery operated, flameless candles that can look, smell, and feel like real candles. However, if you decide to use real candles, follow safety precautions:

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish candles when you go to bed, leave a room or before leaving the house.
  • Keep candles at least 1 foot away from combustibles, including clothing, curtains, upholstered furniture, greenery and decorations.
  • Always use a sturdy noncombustible (metal, glass or ceramic) candle holder. Make sure the candle holder is big enough to catch the dripping wax.
  • Place candles out of reach of small children and pets.
  • Keep candles out of high traffic areas in your home.
  • Trim wicks to ¼-inch before lighting.
  • Avoid candles with items embedded in them, such as twigs, flowers or leaves. The items can ignite or even explode.
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