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Holiday fire hazards

Posted at 5:54 PM, Dec 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-09 19:54:24-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — With the holiday season comes a surge in home fires. In the first nine days of this year, the American Red Cross said it responded to nearly 60-percent more home fires than in 2017 nationwide.

The U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association state that nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays. Among the few popular causes are electrical fires started from Christmas lights.

"When you go put them out and you've had them for a couple of seasons, look for fraying, look for any signs of damage or separation," said Tuscon Fire Department Captain Hector Carpio.

Use UL Listed hangers -- when hanging your lights. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, which is a nationally recognized, product safety certification.

"Make sure that when you hang the lights, don't use staples. The staples could possibly compromise the lights, cut the lights," said Carpio.

Moving on Christmas trees: fake trees have a significantly lower chance of catching on fire, but when you're dealing with real pine trees, "You have to remember that they make turpentine with pine trees and pine oak. So that gives you an understanding of how fast those things can go up. So the important thing to do is to buy a fresh-cut tree, if you can, and make sure you water it daily," said Carpio.

If you stick to a daily watering routine, that will greatly reduce the risk of it catching on fire. However, Carpio said, within four weeks, no matter how much you water it, the tree will dry up.

"So once the season's over with, don't keep the tree laying around, go ahead and take the lights down and dispose of it," said Carpio.

There are several sites where you can dispose of your Christmas tree after the holidays.

What You Can Do to Be Safe:

The following are important tips to help reduce the risk of a fire in your home this season:

* Place Christmas trees and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.

* When choosing a Christmas tree, purchase one that is flame retardant metallic or artificial.

* If you choose a real tree, ensure that it’s fresh and that green needles aren’t easily broken. Remember, keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.

* Before stringing your Holiday lights, be sure there are no frayed electrical cords, the lights are in good working condition, and they are used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

* Unplug your tree and holiday lights when you leave the house and when you go to bed.

* Never leave burning candles unattended and extinguish them when going to bed.

* Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure that all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.

* Many people spend a lot of time during the Holidays cooking and baking. However, the kitchen is also one of the most common places for a home fire to start. When using potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper, kitchen towels, and other flammable items, be sure to keep them well clear of the stovetop. Never leave the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or using an open flame