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Remove and store holiday decorations more safely

SPRINGVILLE — When most people think about the holidays, things like decorations, candles and ornamented trees are what come to mind. What few consider is the fact that these winter months are the leading time for home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

People may choose to keep Christmas trees up for a few weeks after the holiday, but NFPA research shows that nearly 40 percent of homes fires that began with Christmas trees occurred in January.

“The longer they are in the home, the more dangerous they become. The continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out trees can pose significant fire hazards in and outside the home,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy for NFPA. “Proper disposal of the tree from your home will minimize the risk and will keep the holiday a joyful one.”

Although these tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be fatal. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.

When disposing of trees, do not leave them in the home, garage or place them outside, but look for a recycling program. When unplugging the electric decorations, use the gripping area provided on the plugs. Never pull the cord to unplug a device from electrical outlets. Doing so can harm the cord’s wire and insulation, which can lead to an electrical fire or shock. To reduce the risk of holiday tree and light fires and to keep decorations in good condition for next year, follow these suggestions:

When putting away electrical light strings, take time to inspect each for damage. Throw out light sets if they have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.

Do not place a damaged set of lights back into the storage box, for next year’s use.

Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags or wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard.

Store electrical decorations in a dry place, where they cannot be damaged by water or dampness. Keep them away from children and pets.

For more preventative steps to take and rules to follow in order to prevent home fires during the holidays and beyond, check out NFPA’s “Project Holiday” at www.nfpa.org/winter, including an online quiz.

NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.
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