Along with all of the joys of the holiday season comes the increased risk of fire and other property damage, as Christmas trees, lights and candles create new dangers within many homes.
While most people take precautions while setting up their holiday decorations, the White Plains Fire Department issued the following reminders in the hopes of keeping everyone safe this holiday season:
- Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch.
- Don't put your live tree up too early or leave it up more than two weeks.
- Keep the tree stand full of water at all times.
- Do not place your tree 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.
- Never put lit candles on a tree.
- Maintain your holiday lights by inspecting them 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 by linking more than three light strands, 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!
- Use only non-flammable or flame retardant decorations and place them away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
- Don't block exits. Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exitway puts you and your family at risk.
- Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace. Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.