Stay safe this holiday season

Decorating homes and businesses is a longstanding tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire.

Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 170 home fires per each year, from 2012-2016, that started with Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of four deaths, 15 injuries and $12 million in direct property damage annually.

On average, one of every 45 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 139 total reported home fires.

Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles and the ever popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy. Learn how to prevent a fire and what to do in case a fire starts in the home. Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees. Help ensure that you have a fire safe holiday season.

Christmas tree selection safety, care, disposal

* Needles should be green and hard to pull from branch
* Tree trunk should be sticky to the touch
* Bounce your tree to see if needles remain on the tree
* When you place your tree in the home ensure it is not located near any heating sources, fireplace or heating vent
* DO NOT SMOKE near your tree
* Do not put your tree up to early and try not to leave it up for longer than two weeks
* Keep your tree stand filled with water at all times
* When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. Recycling centers or having it hauled away are some options to consider

Holiday lights

* Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking
* Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory
* Do not overload electrical outlets
* Unless directions allow, do not link more than three light strands
* Make periodic checks to wires, they should not be warm to the touch

Holiday decorations

* Use only nonflammable decorations or flame resistant decorations and ensure they are not located near any heat sources
* If you are using an artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant
* Do not block exits. All trees and decorations should not block any exits within your home or work facility

Candle usage in Air Force facilities is prohibited. It is suggested that use of LED battery powered candles is the safest choice for decoration. If the usage of a candle is necessary and strictly involves a holiday function, it has to be cleared through the Edwards Fire Department Fire Prevention section for approval. A formal request will be required by the building’s facility manager outlining information pertinent to the holiday function that needs approval for candle usage.

Remember, “’tis the season to deck the halls,” but let’s make sure it’s done safely and soundly. With good common sense and basic safety rules, you can make this the best holiday season ever for you and your family.

Happy and safe holidays from your Edwards Air Force Base Fire Department.

In case of an emergency, dial 911 from a duty or housing phone, and dial 661-277-4540 from a cell phone. For any additional information, call the Fire Prevention office at 661-277-3124.

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