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Holidays Fire Safety - part 2
By Jonathan Meyer
While the first part of this article covered the safety measures required to reduce fire hazards presented by your Christmas tree, this part covers additional safety steps you can follow to reduce fire threats presented by the holiday lights and decorations.
When decorating your tree, always use lights approved by a testing laboratory and follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use tree lights properly. Every year, before installing holiday lights, inspect for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear.
Keep in mind that some lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. If you use outdoors lights, be sure to bring them inside after the holidays to prevent a hazard. This will also help extend the life of your holiday lights.
Prevent Electrical Fire
Do not overload electrical outlets. Limit connection of light strands to only three strands, unless the manufacturer's instructions indicate it is safe to link more. In addition, it is recommended to connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. This way you can light all lights at the same time.
Check the wires twice a day by touching them to verify they are not too warm to the touch and never leave holiday lights on unattended.
As you decorate your tree, use nonflammable decorations or flame-retardant decorations and place them away from heat vents. Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and make sure any lit candles in the room are placed away from tree branches (keep a three-foot clearance).
Having a Christmas tree in your home increases the chance for fire damage. The holiday season is the best time to check, test, and service your smoke detectors. Make sure you have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, especially near the tree.
Disposing of Your Tree
When the tree becomes dry and begins dropping needles, 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.