NEWBERRY — Yes, Christmas lights and decorations are fun to look at and make our homes look festive, but it only takes one unsafe candle or one too many lights plugged in to send a home ablaze.
Chief Keith Minick offers tips on how to keep our homes safe during the holidays, one of those is avoiding overloading outlets and using surge protectors to plug in lights.
“We want everyone to use and follow manufacturer’s recommendations of how many lights they can stack on top of each other before they have to go to another circuit. Also, use heavier drop cords and if they are going to have them outside make sure that they are covered and not laying or standing in water,” he said.
Minick also encouraged everyone to take proper measurements when using a live tree, making sure it is kept watered, monitoring the water level in trees and making sure that the tree isn’t too moist.
“Once the holiday is over with or the tree is now dry, people need to go ahead and take the tree out of the house and dispose of it properly. Don’t leave it up longer than you have to, especially with the lights on that can create heat and cause a tree to catch on fire,” Minick said.
He also stressed the importance of making sure that any open flames, particularly on candles, are properly mounted to avoid tipping over.
“We’re always telling people to be cautious with the candles that they put in their houses and that they have a good base on them and won’t tip over. It’s always a concern with candles for kids safety. It only takes one candle tipping over to cause devastation in a household,” he said.
Minick added that it is highly recommended for families to purchased battery-operated candles to avoid a potential fire hazard.
Families are also cautioned to use proper drop cords that are able to withstand the amount of lights that are being used. Minick said that if more weight is being pulled with lights or inflatables, consider using a contractor drop cord versus a homeowners drop cord.
“We also want to make sure people are cautious that if they run drop cords through their house that they are not running through doors or windows that can be pinched. You want to make sure the cord is secured down and not a trip hazard or is smashed by windows and doors to get to an outlet,” Minick said.
He added that throughout the holidays families need to maintain their smoke detectors and make sure they are in working condition, testing them once a month and changing the battery every six months.
“In the holiday season with the candles and extra lighting, we want to make sure smoke alarms are in working condition and families know their escape plan, they know how to get out of a house if something were to happen and their meeting place,” Minick said.
The National Fire Prevention Association reported that in one quarter 26% of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
Other statistics from the NFPA include:
• More than one-third of home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room or den.
• The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in 42%of fires.
• The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve.
• Cooking equipment was involved in 19% of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.