Fire safety tips for the holiday season

Putting out decorations and baking special recipes create wonderful memories during the holiday season, but there’s also a risk. House fires occur more during the winter holidays than at any other time of the year.

Keep your holidays festive and your loved ones safe with these fire safety tips:

  • Pay attention to your Christmas tree. If using a real tree, keep it watered, and keep heat sources at least three feet away. If using a fake tree, make sure that it’s flame retardant. In either case, use a sturdy tree stand that won’t fall over.
  • Be mindful when you decorate. Follow manufacturer’s instructions, and only use flame resistant or flame retardant decorations. Replace broken pieces or loose cords.
  • Unplug decorations when you’re sleeping or away. Keep your tree, lights and other electronic decorations unplugged when you leave the house or go to sleep.
  • Be careful with candles. The incidence of candle fires is highest in December. Never leave flames unattended, and blow out each candle before leaving the room or going to bed. Never use lit candles near your tree.
  • Install smoke alarms. Test them monthly, and put in fresh batteries at least once a year. You should have one in the kitchen, on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.
  • Have your fireplace inspected. The chimney walls may need cleaning. Use a screen to embers from escaping, and only burn seasoned wood – no wrapping paper or other materials.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking or baking. Keep flammable items like pot holders, oven mitts or food packaging away from your stovetop.
  • Always supervise children and pets. Keep them away from candles, matches and lighters, and watch them around other decorations.
  • Clean up after the holidays. Get rid of your tree after Christmas or when it’s dry. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard, so don’t leave them in your garage or outside leaning against your house. Also bring outdoor electrical lights inside to prevent hazards.

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