Henrico firefighters offers tips to keep decorated homes safe from fire

Keeping home safe from fire during the holiday season

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico Battalion Chief Doug Reynolds and his wife spare no expense when it comes to decorating for holidays, but before the final set of lights are strung on their two artificial trees, Reynolds says fire safety always comes.

“It just takes a few minutes of your time to plan to make sure you’re doing it safely,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds says it only takes one spark for the most wonderful time of the year to become the worst day of your life, and that a common cause of fires could be tangled underneath your feet. He says you should limit the number of extension cords you use to light your decorations and make sure that they are visible, untangled and not running underneath carpets or rugs.

“If it’s under the rug the cords can get walked on they can get damaged and build up heat and that’s something we want to avoid,” said Reynolds.

If you use an extension cord Reynolds recommends that homeowners use one that is the exact length they will need and to avoid linking multiple extension cords together to limit the potential of shocks and sparks.

When it comes to trees Reynolds says to make sure the tree you pick out is fresh and that no needles fall of the branches when pulled. Dry trees can be dangerous fire hazards especially when exposed to open sources of heat like a space heater or a fire place.

“We all love a fresh tree the smell and everything else, but the biggest thing is that you don’t know when it was cut,” said Reynolds. “Get the freshest tree you can get and when you bring it home make a fresh new cut on the bottom and put it in water as soon as you can.”

Reynolds says real Christmas trees must be watered daily to keep them from drying out, which is why he says fake trees are the safer option. Regardless of the kind of tree you may use, Reynolds says that all trees must be kept at least 36 inches away from all open sources of heat.

“Not long after Christmas and I would says certainly by the first of January you need to get your tree out of your house because it’s going to get too dry and it can be potentially dangerous because they will go up just like that,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds says that any lights that show signs of tearing in the wiring must be thrown away immediately because they are prone to heat up and could catch combustibles around it on fire. He also says homeowners must double check the tags on the lights outside of their homes to make sure they are graded for outdoor use. lights that are intended for indoor use can spark when used outdoors.

“It can cause a problem anywhere from causing a fire in your yard to short circuiting your break at the panel box,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds says the most important tool you can have before any decoration goes up, is a working smoke detector.

“A lot of times smoke detectors will allow you to come see what the problem is and you probably can catch the fire at a very early stage of development and put it out if you have a fire extinguisher,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds says to make sure that you know exactly where your fire extinguisher is and that it is not located in areas where fires could likely start.

Battery operated candles should be used in lieu of candles, but if you are going to use a candle make sure the flame is blown out before leaving the room.

Also be sure to keep your pets away from electrical cords or open flames. If they knock over candles over or chew on the electrical cords to your lights, it could cause a fire.

For more tips on how to keep your home safe from fire this holiday season click HERE.

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