GLOUCESTER — Chief Eric Smith and the Gloucester Fire Department wish to remind residents of important safety tips this holiday season.
More than half of fires in December sparked by holiday decorations are caused by candles, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
“We’re wishing everyone a happy holiday season, but also want to ensure residents are taking the necessary steps to remain safe and protect themselves, family and friends from fire hazards,” Chief Smith said. “Holiday trees, electric string lights, candles and other decorations are festive and fun, but can be extremely dangerous when mishandled.”
The Gloucester Fire Department wishes to share the following holiday safety tips from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services:
Christmas Tree Safety
- It is recommended that residents seeking a natural tree purchase one that is fresh and cut it an inch or two from the bottom before putting it in water as soon as possible.
- To test to see if a tree is too dry, bend a pine needle. If it breaks before bending in half, it is too dry. If pine needles fall off while you slowly pull your hand along the tree while holding it still, this is also a sign the tree may be too dry.
- Water natural trees daily.
- When the tree becomes too dry, dispose of it. Also dispose of trees soon after the holidays end.
- Trees and decorations need to be displayed away from heat sources including heaters, fireplaces and candles.
- Trees should be placed on stands with wide feet to prevent tipping, and wires can be used to tie a tree to keep it steady.
- Residents should use electric holiday lights listed by an approved testing agency to decorate trees. People should also follow manufacturer instructions for tree lights. LED lights also use less electricity and are cooler in temperature. When using old lights, examine them for damage including frayed wires.
- Do not allow light bulbs to directly touch the tree, curtains, wrapped gifts or anything flammable. Never place lit candles on or near a tree, and turn off tree lights when going to bed or leaving home.
- For more information, visit www.mass.gov/news/state-fire-marshal-issues-holiday-decorating-safety-tips.
Outdoor Decoration Safety Tips
- Only use lights rated for outdoor use when decorating outdoors.
- LED lights are a more energy efficient option and produce less heat.
- Make sure to properly secure outdoor lights and decorations with insulated holders or hooks.
- Keep water out by using electrical connection protectors.
- Electric outdoor decorations should be plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Portable units can be purchased for outdoor use, or they can be permanently installed by an electrician.
- Do not overload circuits.
- Do not put nails, staples or tacks through wiring insulation.
- After the holidays, take down and bring in outdoor electrical lights.
- When burning a candle, make sure there is a 1 foot circle around it that is cleared of anything flammable.
- Blow out candles before leaving a room or building. Do not leave candles burning unattended.
- Use a saucer or candle holder that is fireproof.
- Make sure candles are kept out of reach of children and pets.
- Consider using a flameless candle.
Chief Smith also wishes to remind residents to test and maintain their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly.