Press release: Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue offers tips for a safe holiday season




15 December 2016

Contact: Steve Lipsher, public-information officer

Office: (970) 262-5209


Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue offers tips for a safe holiday season

Each year during the holiday season, fires in the United States claim the lives of more than 400 people, injure 1,650 more and cause more than $990 million in damage. The team at Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue wants to ensure that local residents enjoy a safe and happy holiday period by taking a few simple precautions with their holiday decorations.

“There is nothing sadder than seeing a family displaced during the holidays, or worse, mourning the loss of a loved one at a time traditionally reserved for celebration,” said Chief Jeff Berino. “We encourage everyone to think safety first when it comes to creating a festive atmosphere.”

Here are some important safety tips:

Select fresh-cut Christmas trees. 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.

Place Christmas trees carefully. 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.

Keep Christmas trees watered. Christmas trees account for 200 fires in the United States annually, resulting in six deaths, 25 injuries and more than $6 million in property damage. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. To keep the tree hydrated, fill the tree stand reservoir twice a day with a mixture comprised of:

  • 2 gallons of hot water
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 2 ounces liquid bleach
  • 2 pinches epsom salts
  • 1/2 teaspoon Borax
  • 1 teaspoon chelated iron (available at garden shops)

Maintain your holiday lights. Inspect holiday 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 not leave lit holiday lights unattended.

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 before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

Use only non-flammable decorations. All decorations should be non-flammable 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.

Avoid using lit candles. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

Never put lit candles on a tree. Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Dispose your tree properly. 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.

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.


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