Christmas trees, especially, can be a source of fire danger.
In the Decembers of 2005 through 2009, one of every 18 reported fires involving Christmas trees in homes resulted in a death, compared with an average of one death per 141 total home fires at other times of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Decorative lighting was involved in about 150 home fires annually during that same time period and caused an average of eight civilian deaths, 14 injuries and $8.5 million in direct property damage per year.
Kitchens are bustling with activity during the holidays, and Patterson Fire Chief Steve Hall recommended that folks should keep all deep fryers and barbecue appliances outside.
Cooks and bystanders also should make sure all combustible materials — kitchen towels, holiday decorations and even loose-fitting clothing — are kept away from open flames and electrical elements.
In addition, children should not play near the kitchen stove, where pots could be accidentally knocked over, causing serious injuries, Hall said.
The NFPA also offers the following tips for safe holiday decorating:
n Choose decorations that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
n Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
n Use lights that have the approval label of an independent testing laboratory. Check the packaging before hanging lights, because some are made only for indoor use.
n Replace any string of lights that has worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. A maximum of three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 screw-in bulbs should be used when decorating a house or a tree.
n Use clips, not nails, to hang lights, so the cords are not damaged.
n Keep Christmas trees well watered; a dry tree can be very dangerous.
n Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
n Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to sleep.
n Take the tree down when it is dry and check with a recycler in the community for disposal.
n Store outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
For information: “Safety Information” at www.nfpa.org.
For local information: 895-8130.
• Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.