Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire.
Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles and the ever-popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy.
* * * Don't put your live Christmas tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.
* * * Place trees away from heat sources, including fireplaces or heat vents. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.
* * * Keep the live tree stand filled with water at all times.
* * * Use only nonflammable decorations.
* * * Don't link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it's safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
* * * Avoid using lit candles; consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.
* * * Ensure Christmas trees and other holiday decorations don't block an exit way.
* * * Make sure smoke detectors are functioning and have new batteries.
For more tips on how to prevent a holiday fire and what to do in care a fire starts in your home, visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website at www.usfa.fema.gov.