Firefighters urge caution with Christmas trees

DOWNEY - Festive lighting, windowsill candles and ornamented Christmas trees are staples of the holidays but these decorative items also pose a fire risk if handled improperly. In 2005-09, on average, one of every 18 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 141 total home fires.Holiday lights and other decorative lighting were involved in an estimated average of 150 home fires per year during the same time. These fires caused an average of eight civilian deaths, 14 injuries and $8.5 million in direct property damage per year. Here are the Downey Fire Department's tips for safe holiday decorating: Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Check the packaging; some lights are only for indoor use. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged. Keep decorations away from windows and doors. For proper Christmas tree safety: Keep your tree well watered. A dry tree can be extremely dangerous. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed. Get rid of the tree when it is dry. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer. For additional information on how you can keep fire-safe during this holiday season, contact the Downey Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau at (562) 904-7345 or downeyca.org/gov/fire.

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34