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By Paul Schattenberg—
While the holidays are a time for comfort and joy, some of the decorative aspects of the season can also bring increased fire danger to the home.
“Fires are among the most common home-related dangers to be aware of during the holidays,” said Joyce Cavanagh, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service family and community health specialist, Bryan-College Station.
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day have been identified by the National Fire Protection Association as the three days of the year during which most candle fires occur.
“In addition to candle fires, electrical fires and Christmas tree fires are also possible,” Cavanagh said. “Christmas tree fires, in particular, have the potential to do serious damage to the home or cause injury to its occupants.”
She said some tips to help avoid candle and electrical fires are:
- Keep candles at least 1 foot away from flammable items or surfaces.
- Do not put candles directly on surfaces. Use a sturdy candle holder with drip plate.
- Blow out candles when you leave the home or go to bed. Avoid using candles in the bedroom or other areas where people may fall asleep.
- Replace candles before they burn all the way down or before the flame gets too close to the holder or container.
- Keep lit candles in sight and away from areas where they may be knocked over.
- In the event of a power outage, use flashlights or other battery-powered lighting instead of candles.
- Use electric lights tested by an independent testing laboratory and place them only where appropriate.
- If purchasing an artificial tree, choose one labeled fire-resistant.
- Replace old or worn-out Christmas tree lights and turn lights off when leaving home or going to bed.
- Never use lit candles as Christmas tree decorations.
Cavanagh also noted those choosing to have a live Christmas tree in their home should select one with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
“Be sure to regularly add water daily to the tree-stand reservoir and make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source and isn’t blocking a door or exit,” she said.