Fires don’t take a holiday
State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning urges Louisiana citizens to enjoy the upcoming holiday season but wants to remind people that fires do not take a holiday.
Without preventative measures and attention to safety the loss of life and property is a threat.
“Please take time to practice fire safety and fire prevention so you and your family will have a very enjoyable and safe holiday”, Marshal Browning stated. The following tips are recommended steps to ensure safety:
• Preventing Christmas Tree Fires
Choose the right tree. 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. Consider live trees that have been treated with fire retardants.
Be sure to properly care 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.
When disposing of your tree, never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning 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
Never leave holiday lights unattended. Inspect the 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 no 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.
• 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.
Also, if you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
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.
For more information on fire safety, visit the State Fire Marshal’s website at http://sfm.dps.louisiana.gov.
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