Christmas decorations can be fire hazard

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 20, 2007

When speaking about fire safety, it is best to consult the experts.

Ironton Fire Chief, Tom Runyon was happy to share some holiday fire safety tips that can help keep your family protected over this Christmas season.

The most common fire starters are candles, Christmas lights, and dry Christmas trees.

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There are a few simple steps your family can take to avoid fire in using these items this season.

Chief Runyon stated that people tend to burn candles more during the holiday season than any other time.

He recommended that candles not be used in rooms with a draft or ceiling fan, which can cause them to burn unevenly.

If leaving the house, all candles should be extinguished.

Candles should never be left burning unattended.

Christmas lights are a popular holiday tradition but can become dangerous if not monitored properly.

Make sure that circuits are not overloaded and that the lights have been tested and approved by a safety testing and certification organization such as Underwriter’s Laboratory or Factory Mutual Laboratory.

As a tradition, many families use the same holiday decorations year after year.

Older Christmas lighting and decorations need to be checked each time before use.

Chief Runyon said that the older cords can become frayed and brittle with age.

Although a live Christmas tree is a popular favorite, it needs special attention.

The trunk of the tree needs to be cut at an angle, allowing the water to absorb more easily.

The tree should be watered often, allowing the branches to remain hydrated.

Lastly, check the branches for brittleness by bending them.

If the tree is properly hydrated, it should bend and not break or crumble.

Luckily, most people have never experienced the devastation of how quickly a fire can start and burn on a live Christmas tree.

To safely illustrate this hazard, the Department of Homeland Security has produced a video of a controlled test fire on a dry Scotch pine Christmas tree.

Start at and click on the Christmas tree in the middle of the page.

This season, follow a few of these simple steps to avoid a fire hazard:

*Do a brief safety walk around the house before leaving.

*Blow out candles if leaving the home.

*Do not overload outlets.

*Check smoke detectors monthly and change batteries annually.

*Make sure outside lights are properly grounded.

Chief Runyon believes that Christmas is an excellent opportunity to talk about fire safety and he wants to ensure that everyone enjoys the season.

“We don’t do this to interfere with people’s enjoyment of the holidays.

We just want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday.”

For more information, Chief Runyon is available to answer fire safety questions at (740) 532-6463.

For all fire emergencies within Lawrence County, dial 911.