Fire department reminds community to practice fire safety when using Christmas lights

Fire department reminds community to practice fire safety when using Christmas lights

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - It’s that time of the year again.

The magic of the season displayed in dazzling glory from the lights on our home, but just like any space heater or unattended candle, these lights could spark the next house fire.

That’s why the Chesterfield County Fire Department is urging everyone to exercise caution when it comes to making this season bright with holiday lights on your home.

The warning comes after the second destructive house fire in the county in less than a week.

“You don’t want the holiday season to turn into calling us to be able to come out to your house for a fire,” said Chesterfield Fire Spokesperson Jason Elmore.

Elmore stresses the importance of keeping combustible materials at least three feet away from open candles or heating units.

Elmore said it’s easy to overlook the risks involved with lights and Christmas decorations.

“Something as little as those Christmas lights being on your Christmas tree,” said Elmore. “If your tree is dry or if it’s an artificial tree that could easily cause a fire with that Christmas tree and spread quickly though your house.”

So while Home owners like Walter Malone love decorating for the holidays, those risks are the reason his love for decorating is only matched for his regard for safety.

“Everything we use here is L.E.D. low voltage and cool to the touch so it’s safe,” said Malone.

Malone says he experienced a close call with fire after leaving a candle unattended in his home decades ago.

To prevent that now he’s rigged all of the holiday lights in his home to turn off at the flip of a switch.

Even his gas powered fireplace can be turned off at the touch of button.

“We use a lot of fake candles and that’s because people tend to leave there candles burning or forget them,” said Malone. “It’s another way we prevent accidents from happening.”

But while some of us might not have as sophisticated of light setups, there are still some tips we all can follow to keep our home from catching fire from Christmas lights

If you’re going to use outdoor lights, make sure they are rated to withstand wet conditions. The packaging for the lights will tell you when you buy them.

Chesterfield Fire also said you should make sure all outdoor lights are plugged into outlets with Ground Faulty Circuit Interrupters (GFI).

GFI outlets will trip when exposed to moisture which can prevent shocks that could potentially hurt you or start a fire.

Next, always use surge protectors to prevent unexpected shorts in wiring and never overload an outlet to light up your home.

Chesterfield Fire said extension cables should only be used for short periods of time and are not meant for permanent use, especially to light up our homes or Christmas trees.

Lastly, if there is a tear in the coating on the wiring of your Christmas lights or if you have pets or animals that chew though them, throw those lights out.

The exposed wiring could short out and potentially catch combustibles around it on fire.

“The first thing is enjoy the season, the second thing is be very careful,” said Malone.

Another tip to keep in mind is check your batteries in your smoke detectors.

Chesterfield Fire says that all you are twice as likely to make it out of burning building with the aid of a working smoke detector.

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