Avoid fire, burn dangers during holiday season

AUGUSTA, GA (WTOC) - The Joseph M. Still Burn Centers Inc. offered holiday fire prevention tips.

One of the main risks associated with the Christmas season are live trees, especially when they dry out.

Fires with artificial trees can be traced to an electrical problem or malfunction. Making sure bulbs are secured, wires aren't frayed and outlets and extension cords are not overloaded can help homeowners stay safe, said Dr. Fred Mullins, the medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital and president of Joseph M. Still Burn Centers Inc.

The top four days for candle fires are Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, New Year's Day and New Year's Eve, according to data from the U.S. Fire Administration.

"Candles can be pretty, but you have to be very careful around them and make sure they do not get in the hands of children or are being used in an area where children play," Mullins said.

Kitchen accidents and cooking injury can also happen more during the holidays. Keep children away from appliances and ensur that all handles are turned toward the inside of the cooking top are ways to keep the kitchen safe, Mullins said.

Holiday fire and burn safety tips from Joseph M. Still Burn Centers Inc.:


• Check live trees often to ensure that needles are not dried out.

• Tree stands should hold at least one gallon of water.

• A common rule of thumb for watering trees is 1 quart of water per day per inch of Christmas tree trunk diameter.

• Trees should be at least 3 feet from heaters, fireplaces, vents or other heating sources.

Safety tips for lights and electric accessories:

• Never overload extension cords.

• Always follow manufacturer's instructions, especially in regards to the recommended number of light strings that can be connected together.

• Turn off lights and decorations when you are not at home or are asleep.

• Always make sure decorations are not damaged in any way before plugging them in.

• Light sets, extension cords, decorations, etc. should be certified as tested for safety by engineers at Underwriters Laboratory.

• When decorating outside, only use lights and extension cords rated for outside use. Ensure outside lights, decorations and extension cords are rated for outside use. These will bear a red UL holographic symbol, while indoor use items have a green UL hologram.

• Only use plastic hooks or clips to hang lights. Metal staples or nails can puncture wires and conduct electricity.

• When hanging lights or working with electric decorations, only use a wooden or fiberglass ladder. Metal ladders can conduct electricity.

Candle safety tips

• Candles should be kept in a location where they cannot be touched, handled or knocked over by children or animals.

• Ensure that candles are not near flammable materials, including paper goods, Christmas decorations and cloth items.

• Never leave candles unattended for even short periods of time. Candles should be extinguished when you leave the room.

• Always use a candleholder. Candleholders should be very stable and not collect hot wax.

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