Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire.
According to Assistant Chief John Schmader of the Aurora Fire Department, following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles and the ever popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy.
Don't put your live Christmas tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.
Place trees away from heat sources, including fireplaces or vents. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.
Keep the live tree stand filled with water at all times.
Use only nonflammable decorations.
Don't link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it's safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
Avoid using lit candles; consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.
Ensure that Christmas trees and other decorations don't block an exit way.
For more tips on how to prevent a holiday fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home, visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website at www.usfa.fema.gov.
The U.S. Fire Administration recommends everyone should have a comprehensive fire protection plan that includes smoke alarms, residential sprinklers, and practicing a home fire escape plan.