Fire Safety For Holidays

Artificial Trees
Flame retardant artificial trees are recommended over live trees for household decorating purposes. Check the manufacturer's label to confirm materials are fire resistant prior to purchase.

Minimizing Fire Risk Associated with Live Trees:
  • Only choose trees which have firm, green needles.
  • Tree trunks should have a sap residue and be sticky to the touch.
  • To test a tree, firmly strike the tree trunk to the ground; if a significant number of needles fall it is an indication that the tree is too dry and is a potential fire hazard.
  • Place live trees in areas far from heating sources (fireplaces, heat vent, space heaters, etc).
  • Be careful that candles, cigarette ashes, or other sparks do not come in contact with the tree.
  • Use lights that have been tested for safety – do not use old or repaired lights on trees.
  • Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times; live trees should not be kept in the home for more than two weeks.
  • Ensure a fire extinguisher is placed nearby in case of a tree fire.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
  • Properly dispose of live trees by taking them to recycling centers or approved refuse sites or placing them for pick-up by a refuse service
Holiday Decorating Safety
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, cracked sockets, and excessive wear before placing them in or on the home. 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 or power strip before plugging the cord into a wall outlet.
  • Check wires and lights regularly to ensure they are not warm to the touch.
  • Do not leave holiday lights unattended
  • Turn off all decorative lights before leaving the residence or retiring for the evening;unplug extension cords and power cords from the wall outlets.
  • All decorations should be non-flammable/flame retardant and placed away from heat vents.
  • Check periodically to ensure ornaments, decorations, and tree branches are not retaining heat from nearby lights.
  • Dispose of wrapping paper in regular household refuse containers, never in fireplaces or burning barrels. Burning paper can create dangerous sparks that may result in a chimney fires or ground fires.
  • It is recommended that citizens use battery powered candles in lieu of open flames. If choosing to light candles, ensure they are secured in stable holders that will not tip over and placed out of reach of children and household traffic areas.
  • Extinguish any used matches in water before placing them in a trash can. Never leave burning candles unattended or place candles near holiday trees, packages, decorations or other flammable items.
  • If baking for the holidays, check the oven to make sure all components are working properly; replace any faulty elements prior to using the unit. Cook items at recommended times/temperatures; avoid increasing oven temperatures to “speed up” processes.
  • Ensure oven units are off when not in use and monitor them regularly if cooking for extended periods; refrain from using ovens to heat chilled rooms. Regularly check counter-top heating devices (such as roasters, crock-pots, electric skillets, etc.); do not overload kitchen circuits with heating units.
  • Never use a turkey/game fryer inside or near a structure; follow the manufacturer's safety instructions for operating the device. Never try to douse a grease fire with water; ensure a fire extinguisher suitable for grease fires is available. Never leave a fryer or hot grease unattended.
Spring & Summer Fire Precautions
  • When spring cleaning, remember to never mix cleaning products and keep all chemicals away from heating sources.
  • Use chemicals according to instructions, securing them away from children and pets after use.
  • Dispose of used cleaning towels with chemical residue in approved containers.
  • Clear any downed limbs, dried plant materials and other debris from around structures; clear at least a 15-foot perimeter around units and trees.
  • Obtain gasoline and other fuels for mowers and weed eaters in approved containers; store in cool areas, away from heat sources. Fill containers carefully and according to manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Never store gasoline containers in vehicles; only transport gasoline in trunks or firmly secure them away from passenger areas. Take direct routes home when hauling fuel products. Never smoke or ignite lighters/matches while mowing, or while repairing/refueling lawn mowers.
  • If grilling, only use propane or charcoal grills outside and at least 10 feet away from tents, decks or other structures. Ensure propane tank components are functioning properly; always check valves before and after grilling.
  • Secure a three (3) foot child-safe perimeter around the grilling area.
  • Keep lighter fluid, matches and other ignition tools secured and away from children.
  • Clean any drippings from grease traps to minimize the risk of fire.
  • If using boats/watercraft, always shut off boat/watercraft motors prior to refueling; turn off all fans and heating devices. Ensure nozzles are grounded to the fuel intake; leave space in the tank for fuel expansion. Clean any spills immediately; check the bilge for fuel leakage and odors. After fueling and before starting the motor, turn on the blower for at least four minutes to ventilate the system.
  • Install smoke detectors on enclosed watercraft; check batteries routinely. Only install heating/cooking sources approved for marine use.
  • To prevent chemical fires, use pool chemicals according to manufacturers’ recommendations and securely store them outside of the home, in a dry location, and well away from heat sources. Isolate pool chemicals from other product containers and label containers to identify their contents. If the chemical container is damaged, promptly and properly dispose of the chemicals.
Use of Fireworks
  • Remember to observe local laws; check with public safety officials to determine what fire ordinances are in effect for the locality.
  • Keep water/fire extinguishers nearby in case of a malfunction.
  • Do not ignite fireworks in containers or near spectators, structures, trees or other flammable materials.
  • Do not try to re-light fireworks that do not properly ignite, but rather soak any unused items in water prior to disposal.
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place; if on-site, keep firework supplies at a distance from the launch point.
Dangerous Misuse of Gasoline or Other Fuels
Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to:
  • Exterminate yellow jacket nests or other underground insect habitats
  • Treat insect bites
  • Clean tools or engine components
  • Remove stains from clothing or other materials
  • Ignite tree stumps or other debris
Yearly Fire Safety Checks
Citizens are reminded to routinely review the following items and procedures throughout the year in case of a fire emergency:
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and electrical hookups to major appliances; ensure all are working properly—clear away any dust build-up that could be a potential hazard.
  • Check extension cords for signs of wear or damage.
  • Inventory household chemicals; properly dispose of outdated products.
  • Clean or repair address numbers on the home or mailbox to ensure they are visible from the street.
  • Test flashlights, portable radios, and batteries; replenish other stored preparedness supplies.
  • Practice fire drills with family members; update evacuation plans as needed to reflect any changes in the household.
  • Report any potential fire hazards to local authorities and utility companies (limbs on power lines, natural or propane gas odors, etc.).