Stay festive this season - without the fire hazards

December 16, 2011 - Twinkling lights, ornament-laden trees and roaring fireplaces are great for setting the holiday mood, but be careful while decking the halls. These holiday trappings can pose serious fire hazards if you choose unsafe ones or don't use them properly. Follow our tips below for a safe and festive holiday season.

  • Check for freshness when choosing a live tree. Telltale signs of freshness are a coating of resin on the tree's trunk, and green needles that don't break when you bend them and are hard to pull off the branches. Also, the tree shouldn't lose many needles when you tap it on the ground.

  • Buy artificial trees labeled "fire-resistant." While fire-resistant trees can still catch on fire, they will resist burning and are easier to put out.

  • Set up trees away from fireplaces, radiators, foot traffic and doorways.

  • Water live trees regularly so they don't dry out.

  • Use holiday lights that a recognized safety laboratory has tested and approved.

  • Check new and old lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections and throw away damaged sets.

  • Don't use more than three standard-size sets of lights per extension cord.

  • Turn off unattended lights, since they could short out and start a fire.

  • Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant decorations to trim trees.

  • Never place lighted candles on or near trees. Always use nonflammable holders and place candles in areas where people won't knock them over.

  • Don't throw wrapping paper in a fireplace, since it ignites quickly and burns intensely.

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