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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

Deck the Halls Without a Causing a Fire

By Samantha Edwards

Candles are very popular, especially around the holidays. But did you know that candles cause about 20 home fires a day on average in the U.S.?

December is the peak month for home candle fires. If you’re decorating with candles this holiday season, consider using the battery-operated kind. If you must use candles, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach of pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended.

The American Red Cross offers these additional steps you can take to deck your halls safely:

· Check all holiday light cords to ensure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.

· Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.

· Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.

· If using an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.

· If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered. To test if the tree is fresh, bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.

· Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings or other decorations on the mantel.

· Check the labels of older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.

· If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.

You can also help keep your family safe by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less. Visit for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download our free Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).

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