PDT Staff Writer
The holiday season is intended to be merry and free of fires and tragic losses. In light of this fact, State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers has issued safety tips and instruction to avoid fires for the general public to implement.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, one-third of holiday fires are electrical failures.
Flowers warns of three factors that pose an increased fire threat during the holidays: decorative lighting, live Christmas trees and unattended candles.
“Used properly, these can be important family traditions,” Flowers said. “And while Christmas tree fires are not common, when they occur, they often become deadly.”
According to Greg Haller, owner of Fred’s Pizza, having decorations is important to their establishment, and said safety with the lights and decorations is paramount.
“Decorating is a big part of our business, both in and well as out of the holiday season. We want people to have a good time when they come here and we want to make sure that everyone is safe,” Haller said.
Flowers offered specific instruction for the handling of lights. The advice given is to inspect all lights before putting them up. One should check the sockets and wires for any damage that could have occurred during storage.
Flowers recommends that any lights with damage to sockets or strange should be discarded.
When replacing bulbs, only bulbs with the same wattage should be used.
Flowers recommended purchasing lights with the label of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and use the lights according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Outdoor lights are specifically labeled for outdoor use. Outdoor lights should be fastened securely and placed on a ground fault interrupter circuit.
Do not connect too many light sets together and never use extension cords that are worn or cracked. Do not run them under rugs or over sharp objects.
Turn off lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
For Christmas trees, Flowers said live Christmas trees should be as fresh as possible. A fresh cut should be made at the base of the trunk and place the tree in a sturdy stand; water it daily. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
According to Flowers, one in five holiday fires occur because a heat source is too close to the tree. Locate the tree as far away from heat sources as possible.
Never place burning candles on or near the tree or where the tree may fall if knocked over by a pet or child.
Do not block your primary or alternative escape routes with a tree, decorations or presents.
Lastly, Flowers encourages Ohioans to have a working smoke alarm installed on every level of the home and in each bedroom or sleeping area. Each member of the household should know the home fire escape plan and practice it twice a year.
Guests should be aware of the escape plan and the location of any fire extinguishers in case there is an emergency.
Whether homes or places of business, when fire safety measures are taken, fires can be avoided.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org