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'Tis The Season For Holiday Safety
Updated December 1, 2015 7:06 AM
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(UNDATED) - The months of December and January are the most common times for home fires, deaths and injuries. Many of these fires are started by holiday lights, Christmas trees or unattended candles.

This information is being provided by the State Fire Marshal and Indiana Emergency Medical Services. Both are part of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Christmas Tree Safety

Most Hoosiers know to keep the Christmas tree base filled with water and to keep the tree away from heating sources. However, choosing the right tree can also help keep the holiday merry. Trees must be fresh when purchased and discarded when the needles dry and break easily when bent. Here are a few easy tips to make sure the holidays are safe:

  • Make sure, when choosing and buying a live tree, that needles don't fall off when touched;
  • Before placing the live tree in the tree stand, cut 1-2" from the base of the trunk for better water intake;
  • Make sure the tree is set up at least three feet away from any heat source. One in five Christmas tree fires is caused by a heating source that is too close;
  • Make sure the tree does not block an exit;
  • Add water to the tree stand daily; and
  • Dispose of the live tree as soon as needles start significantly dropping. Dried-out trees are a significant fire hazard.

If the right Christmas tree is an artificial one, it still makes good sense to confirm that the manufacturer of the tree identifies it as being fire retardant.

Holiday Lights and Decorations

Pay extra attention to holiday decorations brought out just once a year. Every year before hanging lights inside, outside or on trees, they should be examined for possible safety hazards like frayed or broken strands and missing bulbs. There should never be more than three light strings attached together.

Verify that lights are rated for the particular location they'll adorn, such as outdoor lights being used outside. And, when possible, older style lights should be replaced with newer, more cool-to-the-touch lights. Candles should never be used on a tree or in an unattended holiday display, and lights should always be turned off when leaving home or going to bed.

Decorating Safely

Safety tips don't stop there. Hanging decorations or lights while on a ladder calls for caution as each year thousands of people make trips to the emergency room from falls due to unsafe ladder use. Here are a few ladder-related tips for holiday decorators:

  • Stay clear of power or feeder lines when hanging lights outdoors;
  • Always have a buddy system when up on a ladder or roof;
  • Make sure the ladder is on secure and level footing before climbing;
  • Space the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet it reaches up;
  • Never stand on the top two rungs of an extension ladder or the very top of a step ladder; and
  • Carry a cell phone at all times in case of an accident.

For more information on holiday decorating safety, visit www.GetPrepared.in.gov.



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