Holiday safety tips from Volusia County Fire Services

Along with the holiday cheer and gift giving, fire safety should be at the top of everyone’s list.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, candles are responsible for 38 percent of home decoration structure fires. In fact, the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve.

“The holiday season is a difficult time of the year to lose everything you have in a fire,” said Volusia County Fire Services Chief Jeff Smith. “We encourage everyone to pay attention to fire safety tips for a safe and happy holiday.”

Holiday fire safety lifesaving tips:
•Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year. Consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened.
•Do not place your Christmas tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree and cause it to ignite more easily by the heat, flame or sparks.  
•Never put Christmas tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
•Regularly check your tree for fresh, green needles. Trees that have dried out over several weeks burn faster than fresh, well-watered trees. Remember to keep trees watered at all times.
•When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. Trees that have been put up right after Thanksgiving should be taken down the week after Christmas. After New Year’s Eve, even the most well-watered tree can become a fire hazard.
•Only use UL-listed lighting. Look for the hologaraphic UL on light strings and electrical decorations. The UL means that UL engineers have tested samples of the product for safety hazards. The green holographic UL denotes indoor-use only. The red holographic UL denotes indoor and outdoor-use only.
•Inspect all electrical decorations, new or old, before plugging them in. Cracked sockets, frayed, bare or loose wires can cause a serious electrical shock or start a fire. Replace damaged items with new, UL-listed decorations.
•Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wire, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear.
•Do not overload outlets. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
•Do not leave lit holiday lights unattended.
•Take down holiday lights after 90 days to prevent damage from weather conditions and neighborhood animals.
•Always keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Do not leave children unattended in a room with lit candles.
•Make sure lit candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be knocked over easily.
•Never leave the house with candles burning.

For more information about fire prevention, call 386-736-5940 or visit Volusia.org/fire-rescue.

Source: U.S. Fire Administration and National Fire Protection Association.

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