Q.C. fire department gives tips for safe Christmas tree, decorations - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Q.C. fire department gives tips for safe Christmas tree, decorations

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Posted: Saturday, November 26, 2011 3:00 pm

Now that the last of the turkey leftovers are disappearing and many people began their holiday shopping in the early hours of Friday, many turn their attention to decorating for the next round of holidays.

For many, that means the time for Christmas trees and holiday decorations is near.

Every year, fires injure 1,650 Americans and cause more than $990 million in damage during the holiday season.

Before you decorate your house, the Queen Creek Fire Department recommends tips to keep your family safe and your house fire hazard-free.

Use only nonflammable holiday decorations, which should also be kept away from vents.

Don't overload your electrical sockets. While it may be easy to keep on plugging things into one socket, make sure not to overload it. Don't put more than three light strands together unless the directions specifically state it's safe to do so. Connect strings of lights first to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the wall. Also, periodically check your wires; they should never feel warm.

Maintain your holiday lights. Before putting your lights up every year, check to make sure that there aren't any frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive wear or kinking.

When selecting your tree, make sure that it's not too dry. Needles should still be green and hard to pull off from the branches. The trunk should feel sticky. You can tell if it's an old tree by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If a lot of needles fall off, the tree was probably cut too long ago.

Be careful when and where you place your tree. Make sure that the tree isn't too close to any source of heat, including fireplaces and heaters. Heat dries out trees and makes them easily combustible. Make sure not to flick any cigarette ashes near the tree, since the sparks could make it catch on fire. Putting up a tree too early or keeping it up too late can create a potential fire hazard. The fire department recommends only leaving a tree up for two weeks. To help keep the tree as hydrated as possible, make sure it always has water. While it might seem like an easier way to clean up, wrapping paper should never be placed in the fireplace, the fire department warns. It can lead to dangerous sparks that can start a fire and it produces a chemical buildup that can eventually cause an explosion.

If you put up an artificial or metallic tree, mare sure it is flame retardant. This should be labeled on the packaging.

Avoid using candles. When you do light candles, make sure they are in stable holders and in a place where they won't be knocked down. Also make sure that candles are not in a place where children or pets might be able to reach. Never leave candles burning when you leave the house.

Never put lit candles on your Christmas tree. On a related note, keep all burning things away from the tree - matches, candles, lighters and cigarettes.

Dispose of your tree when it becomes dry. Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove, the fire department warns.

While you're decorating, use this time to make sure that your house, your family and you are prepared in case of a fire. Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly. The fire department recommends testing them every month. Remind your family of your home escape plan in case of a fire. Most importantly, know when to call for help.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5645 or sspring@evtrib.com


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