Holiday Decorating, Heating Safety Reminders

Hopkins County Fire Chief Andy Endsley offers safety tips to keep in mind when decorating for the holidays

With Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday behind us, many will begin pulling out holiday decor to make their homes holiday festive, inside and out.

However, to guard against unintended holiday accidents such as house fires, Hopkins County Fire Chief Andy Endsley encourages residents to keep in mind a few safety tips.

First, is to be very careful with holiday decorations. He recommends looking at all wiring and lighting. Any time a cord seems frayed, to have cuts or to be damaged in any way, he recommends replacing it, reducing the risk of it melting and catching on fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, two of every five decoration fires were the result of decoration being placed too close to a heat source. The organization recommends using decorations that are flame resistant and retardant.

Decorators should also keep in mind the intended placement. The NFPA recommends keeping decorations away from windows and doors, and also using clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.

Some Christmas lights are intended only for indoor use, while others are constructed for outdoor use; check the packaging and hang accordingly. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect, so as not to overload the circuit, which can cause the light, cord and tree to catch on fire and spread.

While the glow of a Christmas tree and holiday lights can be cozy, the NFPA recommends turning off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed. Not only can it help reduce risk of fires, but will save on electricity costs too.

Christmas candles

Those who enjoy the scent and look of a live tree, Endsley recommends watering them daily to prevent them from dying out, which not only can make a mess as needles fall off, but can also make the tree more likely to catch on fire.

Those who enjoy using candles in their holiday decor are reminded to take a few precautions as well to avoid disaster.

According to the NFP, one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles. Two of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.

The NFPA recommends blowing out lit candles when leaving the room or going to bed. Lit candles should also be kept away from decorations and other things that can burn.

Endlsey also reminds that precautions are also needed for heating structures during cooler temperatures as well. He notes that heaters are to be plugged directly into outlets. Extension cords should not be used for electric heaters, as doing so can easily overload the source and result in melted cords and fires.

Natural heating should include proper ventilation, method to extinguish a blaze in a fireplace or wood-burning store. Check to be sure there are not gas leaks for natural gas heaters. Objects should not be placed too close to any heaters or heating sources as a precaution as well.

Author: Faith Huffman

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