There’s no place like (a safe) home for the holidays

(BPT) – During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to lose sight of important safety tips – especially where fire is concerned. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments responded to an average 950 home fires that began with decorations. And trees aren’t the only culprit.

To have more peace of mind this holiday season, here are tips to help keep your home and family safer.

1. Use flameless candles. December is the top month for candle fires, and over a third of all home decoration fires are started by traditional wick candles. Fire safety experts strongly recommend flameless candles that offer the same glow but without the fire hazard. If using traditional wick candles:

  • Keep lit candles out of reach of children and pets.
  • Make sure candles are at least 12 inches from flammable items like holiday decor, bedding and curtains – and Christmas trees.
  • Always blow candles out before leaving a room.

2. Sturdy tree setup. Make sure to set up trees in sturdy tree stands to prevent any mishaps like toppling over when kids or pets try to play near it. To prevent fires, set up your tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. For those with live trees, add water to your tree stand daily so it doesn’t dry out.

3. Inspect and replace holiday lights. Before installing those lights, inspect and replace cords with signs of wear or fray, broken cords or loose bulb connections. Make sure to keep cords out of reach of kids (and pets, who might chew on them) and always turn off decorations and lights before going to bed or leaving home.

4. Opt for LED. Because LED lights emit less heat than incandescent lights, they pose less of a fire hazard. Choose LED lights approved by a recognized testing laboratory, and use lights only for their designated purpose – lights are rated for indoor, outdoor or both.

5. Lose the metal hooks. For households with young children and pets, consider losing the traditional metal ornament hooks and opt for fabric and string hangers, a safer option.

6. Hang stockings with care. Everyone loves the look of stockings on the mantel. If you have a working fireplace, shop for fire-resistant decorations and remove them from the fireplace before lighting a fire or turning on the gas logs.

7. Maintain fireplaces. It’s important to have good safety practices with fireplaces. Not just for Santa but for the family (including pets). Have those chimneys cleaned and inspected annually – before lighting for the first time each year – and clear the area, about three feet for safety, of anything flammable.

8. Know when to say goodbye to your tree. If you like to keep the holiday cheer going and still have your tree up after New Year’s … sorry, it’s time to kick it to the curb. It’s likely dried out, which is a major fire hazard. Most Christmas tree fires actually occur after the holidays.

9. Be prepared for snowy weather. If you lose power, take care when using a generator, which can be a major carbon monoxide (CO) hazard. Install your generator outdoors, at least 20 feet from the home, with the exhaust pointing away from the house. Only operate the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes and protected from direct exposure to rain or snow. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using generators.

10. Know the age of your alarms. Every smoke alarm must be replaced at 10 years and every CO alarm between 7-10 years, depending on the model. If you have forgotten when the alarms were installed there is a workaround – look at the manufacturing date and add the life span of the alarm. For example, a smoke alarm with a manufacturing date of April 14, 2012 should be replaced near April 2022. Consider installing alarms with built-in 10-year batteries that send replacement signals such as Kidde’s Worry-Free Living Room, Bedroom, Hallway, and Kitchen Alarms and Kidde’s Worry-Free Carbon Monoxide Alarms. Available at The Home Depot, Amazon, Menards and

For more information about fire and CO safety, visit

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