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Red Cross Offers Tips to Help Prevent Holiday Fires

With trees, extra lights and candles in many homes this month, it's important to be aware of the fire hazards they present.

As beautiful as holiday trees and lights are, they present fire hazards many people may not be aware of.  The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts is urging homeowners to use extra caution this time of year to keep the season merry and to prevent holiday fires.

The Red Cross provided the following tips to ensure a safe and happy holiday:

Christmas Tree Care

  • Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees.
  • If you purchase a real tree, make sure it has fresh, green needles that aren't easily broken.
  • Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
  • Use a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
  • Keep trees at least three feet away from heat sources, including fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Make sure light strings and other decorations for the tree are in good condition. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for their use.
  • Don’t use anything with frayed electrical cords.
  • Never drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
  • Never put tree branches or needles into a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Don’t leave dried-out trees in a house or garage, or placed against the house or garage.
  • Safely dispose of trees through recycling centers or community pick-up services as they become dry and needles begin to drop.

Holiday Lights and Decorations

  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking or wear.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets by not linking more than three light strands.
  • Use flame-resistant or flame-retardant decorations.
  • Place decorations at least three feet away from fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.

Holiday Candles

  • Always extinguish candles before leaving a room or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Keep candles at least three feet away from trees, evergreens, holiday decorations, and other items that can catch fire such as clothing, papers and curtains.
  • Use candle holders that are study, won't tip over easily, are made from non-flammable materials, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Remember that even glass holders can shatter and explode from the heat of a candle flame.
  • Place candles where they cannot be reached or easily knocked over by children and pets.
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