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Fire department issues holiday fire safety tips

Each year, fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer and avoid the need for such a response.
Picking the tree
· If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
· Choose a real tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Placing the tree
· Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1 - 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
· Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
· Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
· Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
Lighting the tree
· Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
· Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
· Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
· Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
After Christmas
· Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards.

Between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires that started with Christmas tree. These fires caused an average of six deaths, 22 injuries and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually. On average, one of every 40 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires. Electrical problems were factors in one-third (32 percent) of home Christmas tree structure fires.

For more information, and to view a related video, go to

Candles may be pretty to look at but they are a cause of home fires -- and home fire deaths. Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.
· Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
· Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
· Think about using flameless candles in your home. They look and smell like real candles.

If you do burn candles, make sure that you... 
· Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won't tip over easily.
· Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
· Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
· Don't burn a candle all the way down. Put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
· Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
· Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage instead of candles.

· During the five-year-period of 2007-2011, National Fire Protection Association estimates decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 920 reported home structure fires per year.
The following tips can help prevent fires
· These fires caused an estimated average of six civilian deaths, 47 civilian injuries and $12.9 million in direct property damage per year.
· One-fifth of the home structure decoration fires occurred in December. Nearly half (47 percent) of home structure decoration fires occurred because the decoration was too close to a heat source.
· Forty-one percent of these incidents were started by candles. 

· One-fifth (21 percent) started in the living room, family room, or den.

If you have any questions please contact the Schriever Fire Department at 567-3370.

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