GEORGETOWN — Chief Fred A. Mitchell Jr. and the Georgetown Fire Department wish to remind residents of important safety tips this holiday season.
More than half of fires in December sparked by holiday decorations are caused by candles, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
“There are a lot of fire hazards present over the holidays, and it is important for everyone to pay attention as they set up their holiday trees and decorations, prepare meals, light candles and so on, to prevent fires,” Chief Mitchell said.
The Georgetown Fire Department wishes to share the following holiday safety tips from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services:
Christmas Tree Safety
- It is recommended that residents seeking a natural tree purchase one that is fresh and cut it an inch or two from the bottom before putting it in water as soon as possible.
- To test to see if a tree is too dry, bend a pine needle. If it breaks before bending in half, it is too dry. If pine needles fall off while you slowly pull your hand along the tree while holding it still, this is also a sign the tree may be too dry.
- Water natural trees daily.
- When the tree becomes too dry, dispose of it. Also dispose of trees soon after the holidays end.
- Trees and decorations need to be displayed away from heat sources including heaters, fireplaces and candles.
- Trees should be placed on stands with wide feet to prevent tipping, and wires can be used to tie a tree to keep it steady.
- Residents should use electric holiday lights listed by an approved testing agency to decorate trees. People should also follow manufacturer instructions for tree lights. LED lights also use less electricity and are cooler in temperature. When using old lights, examine them for damage including frayed wires.
- Do not allow tree light bulbs to directly touch the tree, curtains, wrapped gifts or anything flammable. Never place lit candles on or near a tree, and turn off tree lights when going to bed or leaving home.
- For more information, visit www.mass.gov/news/state-fire-marshal-issues-holiday-decorating-safety-tips.
Outdoor Decoration Safety Tips
- Only use lights rated for outdoor use when decorating outdoors.
- LED lights are more energy efficient options and produce less heat.
- Make sure to properly secure outdoor lights and decorations with insulated holders or hooks.
- Keep water out by using electrical connection protectors.
- Electric outdoor decorations should be plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Portable units can be purchased for outdoor use, or they can be permanently installed by an electrician.
- Do not overload circuits.
- Do not put nails, staples or tacks through wiring insulation.
- After the holidays, take down and bring in outdoor electrical lights.
- When burning a candle, make sure there is a 1 foot circle around it that is cleared of anything flammable.
- Blow out candles before leaving a room or building. Do not leave candles burning unattended.
- Use a saucer or candle holder that is fireproof.
- Make sure candles are kept out of reach of children and pets.
- Consider using a flameless candle.
- In the event of a grease fire, smother flames with a lid and then turn off the heat. Baking soda will also work.
- Do not move a burning pan, which can spread the fire.
- Do not throw water or use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire, as water will spread the fire and the extinguisher could splash flaming grease.
- Never leave food, grease or oils cooking on the stove top without supervision.
- Do not wear loose or long sleeves when cooking, as it can catch fire.
- Strop, drop and roll if your clothing catches fire, run burns under cool water and call 9-1-1 for help.
- Keep children and pets three feet away from the stove.
- Do not store or use flammable objects, such as pot holders, towels, paper or plastic bags, near heating elements.
- If a fire starts in an oven or microwave, close the door, turn the appliance off and call the fire department.
- Do not put metal inside a microwave.
- Unplug appliances such as toasters and coffee makers when you are not using them.
- Do not store items in an oven.
Chief Mitchell also wishes to remind residents to test and maintain their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly.