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Holiday Décor Hazards
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By PIO / Fire Prevention Officer Scot Best
December 1, 2021

Nothing spreads cheer quite like holiday decorations, but care must be used to ensure your festive winter décor is fire-safe. Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, which means December is the peak month for home candle fires. One-third (33%) of home decoration fires are started by candles. If you’re decorating with candles this holiday season, consider using the battery-operated kind. Additionally, each year, fire departments nationwide respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. A heat source too close to the Christmas tree started over one-quarter (26%) of these fires. Almost one third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be serious.

The Ridge VFD offers these steps you can take to deck your halls safely:

• Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Two of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.
• If you use candles, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach of pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended.
• Check all holiday light cords to ensure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.
• Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
• If buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.
• If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered daily. To test if the tree is fresh, bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
• Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
• Turn off all holiday lights (inside and outside) when going to bed or leaving the house.
• Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings or other decorations on the mantel.
• Check the labels of older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
• If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.

Carefully decorating your home for the holidays can help make your holidays safer.

Remember, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home. Make sure to test your smoke alarms regularly and keep them clean. Don’t forget to practice your home escape plan!


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Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
13820 Point Lookout Road
P.O. Box 520
Ridge, MD 20680
Emergency Dial 911
Non-Emergency: 301-872-5571
E-mail: info@ridgevfd.org
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