Whether you’re lighting your Hanukkah candles or illuminating a Christmas tree, fire officials say you need to keep in mind the holiday season brings its own additional risk of house fires. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.
Colorful lights hang on newly-cut Christmas trees and space heaters hum quietly in the corner.For many, this setting invokes the image of a cozy holiday home. But for fire marshals, it’s a potential recipe for disaster. In the U.S. this holiday season, Christmas trees, candles or space heaters will cause an estimated 1,200 house fires.According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 80 percent of fire deaths occur in the home.Randy Villines, the assistant fire chief in Springfield, says most holiday fires are preventable.“People like to put out their candles at Christmas time. A Candle, we like a three foot rule around those. First, we don’t like the candles, but if you are going to have a candle have it in a container where the candle is lower in the glass container, so that the wick isn’t exposed. The flame isn’t exposed outside that glass container,” Villines said.Villines says never to leave lit candles unattended nor put them on a Christmas tree.He says live trees ignite more quickly when they dry out.“It dries out. Every day it dries out more and more. You want to keep it as watered as possible. Every day, check the water level in the basin of your Christmas tree stand. Make sure it’s getting water into it’s trunk as its dieing in your home with the heat that’s sapping it for moisture,” Villines said.Also, Villines says to check Christmas lights for open or frayed wires because they could catch the tree on fire.He says space heaters are also a culprit of holiday fires. Many people put the small heaters too close to curtains or furniture.“Space heaters are another in that folks like to use extension cords on their space heaters. Bad plan. Space heaters use a lot of electricity and if you have one of those cheap, disposable extension cords on the other end of it. It’s a matter of time before that extension cord over heats and catches something on fire,” Villines said.Villines says make sure the space heater is three feet away from any surface and encourages people to buy a space heater that turns off when it’s knocked over.He added that one of the simplest ways to protect a home from fire--during the holidays, and any time of the year-- is to have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries in it.For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.