Safety tips for preventing holiday fires

Yule season keeps fire departments busy

More residential fires are reported during the holidays than at any other time during the year, so the Las Cruces Fire Department is encouraging residents to follow these simple tips that can greatly increase their chances of having a safe holiday season.

  • If you purchase a cut Christmas tree, select a freshly-cut tree with green needles. Its trunk should be sticky to the touch. If needles fall off easily, the tree is already dry and a fire hazard.
  • Do not place a Christmas tree close to a heat source, such as a fireplace, heater vent or ash trays. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
  • No not dispose of a tree in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Dispose of your tree by taking it to a recycling center or have it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in insulation, broken or cracked sockets, or worn wires.
  • Exercise caution when using lights that have heat-generating bulbs as they can cause enough heat to dry out trees or wood trims, and that can become a fire hazard.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. In most cases, outlets are capable of powering only three light strands. If electrical wiring is warm to the touch, it’s overloaded.
  • Unplug holiday lights and extinguish candles and luminarias prior to leaving home.
  • Use only non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations and keep them away from heat sources.
  • Do not burn wrapping paper as it can throw dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup that could lead to an explosion.
  • If you are using a metallic or artificial Christmas tree, make sure it is flame retardant. If it is pre-wired for lights, inspect the lights prior to use as you would any holiday lights or decorations.
  • If using candles, place them in holders or stands that cannot be knocked over.
  • Never put lighted candles or luminarias near trees or other combustible items.

The Las Cruces Fire Department also reminds residents to make sure their home has properly working smoke detectors installed on every floor, and in or near every bedroom. Fresh batteries should be installed at least every six months. For more information on fire safety visit the Resource Section of the LCFD Website at www.clcfd.com.

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