Tennessee State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman wants to remind Tennesseans to keep fire safety on their minds as they decorate their homes for this holiday season.
"Home decorations make a home cheerful and festive, but items such as string lights and Christmas trees introduce fire risks," said Newman. Every year we hear of families that have lost their homes, or worse, suffered an injury or death due to a fire caused by decorations.
These risks can be minimized by following a few fire safety tips:
· Try to keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water daily. Do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles.
· Choose a sturdy tree stand so that the tree will not tip over.
· When purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
· Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators. Try to position the tree near an outlet to keep electrical cords from running long distances
· Choose decorations made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
· Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials. Never use candles to decorate a Christmas tree.
· Purchase only lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance.
· Carefully inspect new and previously used electrical decorations for cracked sockets, frayed, bare or loose wires prior to use. Replace any damaged items. Do not overload extension cords.
· Do not mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation (i.e., use clips, not nails).
· Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.
The activities and excitement surrounding the holidays can make people less careful at a time when they should be more cautious, said State Fire Marshal Leslie Newman. "Keeping fire safety in mind and following a few fire safety guidelines will ensure that Tennesseans have a safe and happy holiday season.