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  • CPS - Fire Safety

    U.S. Fire Administration - Holiday Fire Safety Tips

    It’s hard to believe that the 2012 holiday season is upon us. Setting up a tree and decorating it to the hilt is an American tradition that delights both young and old. However, trees that are improperly outfitted or cared for can be a tragic accident waiting to happen.

    The Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) website features a fire safety resource sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). It offers tips and precautions for safeguarding your holiday home decorations.

    According to NFPA, each year an estimated 240 home fires involve Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involve holiday lights and other decorative lighting. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage.

    Following some simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles, and the holiday tree from creating a tragedy. First and foremost, be sure all exits from your home are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees. Christmas trees are responsible for hundreds of fires annually. Usually the causes are short-circuiting of electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters, or matches. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.

    Below are some tips that FEMA’s Holiday and Christmas Tree Fire Safety recommends:

    • Keep your Christmas tree watered—sometimes shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters, or matches start tree fires.
    • Select a fresh tree—needles on fresh trees should be green, hard to pull back from the branches, and not break or fall off easily; the trunk should be sticky to touch.
    • Maintain your holiday lights—inspect your lights each year for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, excessive kinking, or wear.
    • Use nonflammable decorations—use nonflammable or flame-retardant decorations and keep them far away from heat vents.
    • Do not overload electrical outlets—do not use more than three light strands. Use an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
    • Don’t block exits—a blocked entry/exit puts you or your family at risk.
    • Do not leave holiday lights unattended.
    • Avoid using lit candles and never put lit candles on a tree.
    • Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace—it can result in a large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

    Our Department of Public Safety programs invites you and students of our fire science programs to learn more about holiday decorating safety and other fire safety topics. Visit the FEMA website at www.fema.gov.

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