Safety Tips


Common sense precautions can save your home, your family, and maybe even your life…


We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday so take a moment to review these tips put together by the U.S. Fire Administration:

A Season for Sharing in Fire Safety

Each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.

Preventing Christmas Tree Fires

  • Christmas Tree Fire Hazards – Movie segments demonstrating how fast a live Christmas tree can become fully engulfed in flames. Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
  • Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
    Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

  • Caring for Your Tree
    Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

  • Disposing of Your Tree
    Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Holiday Lights

  • Maintain Your Holiday Lights
    Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

  • Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
    Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

  • Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended

Holiday Decorations

  • Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
    All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

  • Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace
    It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers and may result in a chimney fire.

  • Artificial Christmas Trees
    If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Candle Care

  • Avoid Using Lit Candles
    If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

  • Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
    Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.

Links of Interest


Smoke detectors save lives – everyday. Have at least one on every level of your home and in every bedroom. Change the batteries at least once a year – daylight savings or spring-cleaning works for some; birthdays, holidays or New Year’s for others.

Have a fire plan and a practice drill
. Know what to do if there is a fire, make sure the whole family knows when and how to call 911, and rehearse everyone on how to escape safely. Establish a meeting place to wait for the fire department.

It’s always a good idea to have at least a few fire extinguishers; in the kitchen, garage or near a fireplace. Read the instructions so you know how to use it before you need to use it. A small flame can be easily contained with an extinguisher but please, don’t be a hero and try to battle a big blaze. Leave that to the fire professionals – always call 911.

Painful burns from scalding liquids, hot pots and grease fires are a leading cause of household burns, and they can also be life threatening – particularly to toddlers. Turn pot handles away from the front of the stove. Never pour water onto a stovetop fire. If you can, smother the flames by putting on the pot lid and then remove the pot from the heat. If this isn’t possible, get out and call 911. Most house fires start in the kitchen.

Propane tanks, gasoline cans, motor oils, solvents, thinners, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol and paints, oh my! Chances are you have a variety of incendiary substances in your garage, cleaning closet, or under the bathroom sink. Beyond literally being poisonous, many of these chemicals are highly flammable and can ignite by a small spark at a considerable distance. Always keep them away from furnaces, water heaters, ranges, heaters and other gas appliances.

You know all that light, fluffy, hot and flammable stuff you scrape from the dryer lint screen? It can collect other places too, so examine the outside vent to make sure it’s not clogged with a year-long lint buildup. Believe it or not, this is another leading cause of house fires.

Nothing is cozier than the warmth of a fire on a cold day, but keep it safe and contained. Check your flue and have your chimney cleaned regularly. Use caution lighting and tending a fire and never leave a fire unattended or unscreened. Use the same precautions for candles and consider using battery-operated candles, which look great and are much safer. And Mom was right – don’t play with matches. Keep matches and lighters safely stored and out of the reach of children.

Old extension cords, overloaded power strips, wires under rugs … sound familiar? Simple fixes will streamline your usage and reduce the risk of an electrical fire. Don’t connect multiple extension cords and get the right power strips for the job. Put power sucking devices on a single strip that can be turned off and you’ll save money too.