’Tis the season to think safety: How to avoid holiday fires

The holiday season has arrived, and many of us are wrapped up in making it merry and bright. There are trees to top, snowmen to inflate and lights to string across the roof.

But as you’re decking the halls and hanging your stockings by the chimney, be sure to keep safety at the top of your list.

Christmas trees account for hundreds of house fires each year. Most result from shorts in electrical lights, or open flames from candles, lighters or matches. Candle-related fires also peak during the month of December. The majority of these fires occur when candles are placed too close to items that can ignite.

Many of us prefer the look and smell of live Christmas trees. “Your branches green delight us!” proclaims the traditional carol, O Christmas Tree. However, it’s absolutely crucial that live, or natural, trees must be frequently watered.

Check out this incredible video from the U.S. Fire Administration  to see how quickly a dry tree goes up in flames versus one that is regularly watered:

[youtube_sc url=”http://youtu.be/mEJXAKQHb5s”]

Here are a few helpful holiday tips to keep your loved ones and your home safe this season:

  • Cut natural Christmas trees at a 45° angle at the base and place in water. Keep tree stands filled with water at all times. Position tree away from heat source and discard when it becomes dry.
  • Keep all light sockets filled even though a bulb may be burned out. Discard light sets that are broken, have frayed or bare wires, or have loose connections.
  • Keep ladders away from power lines when hanging outdoor lights and decorations.
  • Place candles a safe distance away from items that can ignite, such as curtains or trees. Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Consider using flameless candles in your home.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and be sure to occasionally test the devices and replace batteries.
  • Use holiday lights approved by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Consider decorating with ENERGY STAR®-qualified, LED lights. These lights are more energy-efficient and create less heat than incandescent lighting, reducing the risk of fire.
  • Use lighting designated for indoor or outdoor use accordingly.  Also, do not connect more than three consecutive strings of lights, unless they are LEDs.

Don’t worry about anyone laughing or calling you names for following these safety tips – they’re sure to end up on the naughty list! For more holiday safety information, visit cpsenergy.com or the U.S. Fire Administration website.

Tracy Idell Hamilton

Tracy Idell Hamilton was part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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