With the Christmas holiday just days away, officials of the Emmetsburg Fire Department are reminding area residents to not take fire safety for granted during the holidays.
The decorating of homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season, but the truth of the matter is that some of those same decorations may increase the chances of fire in your home or workplace.
"Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep your holiday lights, candles and even the traditional Christmas tree from creating a tragedy," noted Emmetsburg Fire Chief Frank Kliegl.
When dealing with live Christmas trees, the biggest reminder is to keep the tree well watered. A live tree should not be put up for more than two weeks, as it will dry out.
Always watch where you place a live Christmas tree. Trees should be kept away from all heat sources, such as heating vents and fireplaces. Too much heat dries the tree out prematurely, creating the opportunity to be ignited much easier by stray flame or sparks. A dried out tree can literally explode into flame in a matter of moments.
If you have a live tree, keep the tree stand filled with water at all times, and check the water level daily. A tree will absorb the water quickly when still fresh, and natural evaporation also depletes the water in a tree stand.
When decorating your holiday tree, use decorations that are non-flammable. Never use real candles to decorate a real tree Instead, consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles
Authorities also recommend not to use more than three strands of lights when decorating a tree unless directions indicate it is safe to do so. Strings of lights should be plugged into a UL-approved extension cord before being plugged into an outlet.
And, above all, residents are reminded to always make sure that Christmas trees and other holiday decorations never block exits from the home or business.
For more tips on how to prevent a holiday fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home, visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website at www.usfa.fema.gov