Holidays mean fire-risk increase

Published 3:00 am Saturday, December 13, 2014

While the holiday season is looked at as a time to deck the halls and fill the room with Christmas cheer, making sure to take proper care when tending to a Christmas tree is the easiest way to prevent a house fire this holiday season.

Christmas trees, holiday-spirited candles or simple holiday decorations, such as twinkle lights, significantly contribute to the seasonal causes of house fires, according to Troy Fire.

Candles are commonly used to decorate the household during the holiday season, and Fire Chief Thomas Outlaw said statistics showed that candles start two of every five home decoration fires.

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“We encourage residents to consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles,” Outlaw said. “However, if you do use traditional candles, please keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces.”

Outlaw said it was also best to keep candles out bedrooms or rooms where a child may be left alone with them.

Fire departments across the United States respond to an average of 230 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees each year. One of every three of the fires are caused by electrical problems, and one of five resulted form a heat source that was too close to the tree.

“If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is clearly labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant,” Outlaw said. “If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched, and before placing it into the stand, cut one to two inches off the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to water it daily.”

Other ways to prevent a house fire this Christmas, included making sure your tree was not placed in front of an exit, is at least three feet away from a heat source, uses lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory and have an indication for indoor or outdoor use.

“Always be sure to turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed,” Outlaw said. “After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home, garage or placed outside of the homes.”

By following these few tips, Outlaw said the likelihood of a holiday house fire decreased.

“The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire occurs,” Outlaw said. “By taking simple precautions, people can avoid potential fire hazards, and make this time of year a healthy and happy one.”