Rhode Island Fire Marshal: Trees, decorations pose deadly holiday dangers if left unchecked

Rhode Island Fire Marshal: Trees, decorations pose deadly holiday dangers if left unchecked



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Christmas trees, holiday lights and candles all provide color help “make the season bright,” but not taking steps to prevent a fire can have deadly consequences this time of year.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas trees are responsible for an average of approximately 200 fires each year and have led to some of the deadliest fires. In fact, the organization reports that one death occurs for every 32 fires attributed to Christmas trees compared to just one death for every 343 house fires attributed to other causes.

The best way to avoid becoming a statistic is to take precautions to prevent a fire before it can start, according to Acting Rhode Island Fire Marshal James Gumbley.

“If using a real tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered every day,” Gumbley said in a press release. "Keep all trees and other holiday decorations at least three feet from any heat source, including fireplaces, radiators, portable heaters and candles.”

After the holidays, Gumbley reminds residents to dispose of Christmas trees promptly, before they dry out and become a major fire hazard.

When it comes to holiday fire dangers, trees are only the tip of the iceberg, however. Another popular holiday decoration, seasonal candles, is also a major fire risk during the holiday season.

The National Fire Protection Agency reports there are four times as many candle fires in December than any other month, and more fires are caused by candles on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day than any other days of the year. If using real candles, be sure to place them on a sturdy surface away from flammable materials, the organization warns.

Gumbley also warned that with all the holiday parties, it is important to stay alert when cooking.

“Cooking fires also are a prime concern this time of year,” Gumbley said. “In fact, more house fires are caused by cooking on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, along with Thanksgiving Day, than any other single day of the year.”

For more tips on fire safety, including holiday fire prevention, visit nfpa.org/Public-Education.

jvallee@thewesterlysun.com

Fire Prevention Tips

The Rhode Island Office of the State Fire Marshal encourages everyone to use care when decorating for the holidays. The following tips can go a long way in preventing a tragedy over the holidays:

■If using a real tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered every day.■Keep all trees and other holiday decorations at least three feet from any heat source, including fireplaces, radiators, portable heaters and candles.■Use non-flammable decorations and check lights to ensure there are no exposed, frayed or pinched wires that pose a fire hazard.■When hanging lights, avoid using nails or staples that can damage the wiring and pose a fire risk.■Make sure all lights are turned off before you go to bed or leave your house.■Never use real candles on holiday trees.

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