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Holiday Safety Tips from the Central Fire Department

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By Fire Chief Bill Porche; Submitted by Captain Glover

SUGGESTIONS FOR OUTDOOR HOLIDAY SAFETY:

* Use a dry wooden ladder when hanging Holiday lights to reduce the chance of electrical shock, and stay clear of all overhead electrical wires.

* Use insulated staples that are hammered-in rather than staple guns, again to reduce the chance of electrical shock.

* Water proof all electrical connections and keep them elevated so rain water will not drain into the connection and possibly cause a shock or a short circuit.

* Avoid standing in water while handling electrical wiring or when using electrical power tools.

* Shut off electrical power when replacing bulbs and keep the electricity off while putting up outdoor Holiday lighting. 

* ALWAYS use an extension cord that has a three (3) pronged plug (is an extension cord with a ground wire) that is approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for outdoor use.

* NEVER allow the bulbs to touch combustible material, such as plastics, leaves, grass, or pine needles.

SUGGESTIONS FOR INDOOR HOLIDAY SAFETY:

*Avoid buying Christmas trees with shedding needles, as it is a sign that the tree is dry and a greater fire risk.

*Cut two (2) inches from the base of the tree trunk so it can better absorb water.

*Keep the tree outdoors with the trunk placed in a large bucket of water for a few days before bringing it indoors to insure the tree has absorbed enough moisture to stay fresher, thus making it less of a fire hazard.

*Install the tree away from all heat sources, open flames, and exits.

*Replace any light string with frayed or broken wires, loose connections, or broken or cracked sockets.

*Do NOT overload extension cords, adapters, or outlets.  Only one length of extension cord or adapter should be used per outlet.

*Do NOT place electrical cords under rugs or carpet as walking traffic can weaken the insulation and increase the risk of fire or electrical shock.

*Do NOT hang electrical lights from a metallic tree because damaged insulation could electrically charge the tree and cause a shock or fire.  Instead use colored spotlights either above or beside the tree, but never on the tree.

*ALWAYS unplug the tree lights whenever you leave the house or go to bed.

*Be sure artificial trees are fire-retardant and have a UL label to verify it.

*Be sure all decorative lighting is UL labeled.

*NEVER burn gift-wrapping in fireplaces because it can ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.  Also, since gift wrapping burns very hot, which causes large flames, it can ignite creosote deposits in the chimney and cause a fire in the chimney.

*NEVER burn Christmas trees in fireplaces because the flames can flare out of control and send sparks flying into the room.

    Captain Derek Glover, of the Central Fire Department Fire Prevention Program, says that every family should have a working smoke detector on each level of their home.  These smoke detectors should be installed according to manufacturer’s recommendations.  Most people frequently buy only one smoke detector and place it in the hall leading to the bedrooms.  Captain Glover says that smoke alarms should be installed in each bedroom as well.  This will alert parents of young children who may be playing with matches in their rooms.  Detectors should be tested every month and the battery changed every six- (6) months. 

    You might consider giving a loved one a smoke detector or fire extinguisher for a “Christmas gift.”  This gift could save their life!  These Holiday fire safety tips are to insure everyone to have a safe and happy Christmas. 

Happy Holidays to you and your family from the Central Fire Department!

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