Holiday fire prevention tips

  • Published
  • By Moody AFB
  • Fire Prevention Office
Every year, fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of more than 400 Americans, injure 1,650 more and cause more than $990 million in damage.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are simple life-saving steps individuals can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday.

Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday casualty.

Selecting a tree for the holiday
- Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. They should not break if the tree has been freshly cut.
- The trunk should be sticky to the touch.
- Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree truck on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree was cut too long ago, has probably dried out and is a fire hazard.

Caring for a tree
- Do not place trees close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
- Do not put a live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
- Never put lit candles on a tree.
- Do not go near a tree with an open flame, including candles, lighters or matches.
Disposing of trees
o Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, remove it from your home.
- The best way to dispose of a tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Holiday lights, decorations and candles
- Remember to always follow the manufacturer's safety recommendations provided with lights and decorations. Failure to do so could lead to a hazardous situation.
- Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
- Do not overload electrical outlets and do not link more than three light strands together unless the directions indicate it is safe.
- Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
- Make sure to periodically check the wires- they should not be warm to the touch.
- Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.
- All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
- Avoid using lit candles. If they are used, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
- Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace as it can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

In all seasons, everyone should have working smoke alarms installed on every level of their residence. These should be tested monthly and kept clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times.

Individuals are reminded to practice their home escape plans and know how to call for help. For more information, call the Moody Fire Prevention Office at 229-257-4410.