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CFD: A Season for Sharing in Fire Safety

Each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage.

Each year fires during the holiday season claim the lives of more than 400 people; injure 1,650 more; and cause more than $990 million in damage, Cartersville Fire Department officials say.

Simple life-saving steps by the United States Fire Administration could ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.

Preventing Christmas Tree Fires

  • Christmas Tree Fire Hazards 
    Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
  • Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
    Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
  • Caring for Your Tree
    Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
  • Disposing of Your Tree
    Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Holiday Lights

  • Maintain Your Holiday Lights
    Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
  • Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
    Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.
  • Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended

Holiday Decorations

  • Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
    All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
  • Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace
    It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers and may result in a chimney fire.
  • Artificial Christmas Trees
    If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Candle Care

  • Avoid Using Lit Candles
    Flameless candles are a much safer alternative. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
  • Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
    Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.

For more information on holiday fire safety or to receive two free smoke alarms, contact the Fire Prevention Division at 770-387-5635 or visit the Cartersville Fire Department's new headquarters at 195 Cassville Road in Cartersville between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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