The Chief’s Corner: Did you know?

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA

Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

Nearly half of holiday decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.
December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.
One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
One-third of all candle fires start in the bedroom.

It’s fun to decorate for the winter holidays, but holiday decorations can increase your risk for a home fire. As you deck the halls this season, be fire smart.

Candle safety:

Place candles in a sturdy candleholder that will not tip over.
Keep candles 12 inches away from things that can burn.
Never leave a burning candle alone.
Think about using battery-operated flameless candles.

Holiday lighting safety:

Inspect holiday lights each year before you put them up. Throw away light strands with frayed or pinched wires.
Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
Use only lighting evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Live Christmas tree safety:

Water your Christmas tree every day.
Place tree away from sources of heat like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents. At least 3 feet away from these heat sources. A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four of Christmas tree fires.
Also, make sure your tree does not block exits.
When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.

Smoke alarms all year round:

Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
Test all smoke alarms in your house once a month.
Replace smoke alarm batteries at least annually.
Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old.

On behalf of all the men and women of the Smithfield Fire Department, enjoy your Christmas holiday.