Fire marshal shares safety tips

Published 6:07 am Friday, December 9, 2011

Decking the halls with lights, trees and candles this season can be a dangerous affair. The Alabama State Fire Marshal is warning residents that even the most common holiday decorations can pose a fire risk if handled improperly.

“Although decorations and Christmas trees certainly spread holiday cheer, it is important to follow basic safety steps so celebrations go off without a hitch,” said Fire Marshal Ed Paulk.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, from 2005 to 2009, one of every 18 Christmas tree fires caused a death. Decorative lighting ignighted150 home fires during each of those years, which resulted in eight deaths, 14 injuries and $8.5 million in property damage, per year.

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Simple tips to keep your home and family safe are to choose decorations that are flame resistant or retardant, keep candles away from anything that is flammable, check lights to see if they are manufactured for use outdoors, replace worn or broken cords, avoid using nails to hang light strands and keep decorations away from windows or doors.

When caring for your Christmas tree, keep live trees well-watered and turn off tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

In preparation for next season, Paulk recommends bringing outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent damage and future hazards.