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American Red Cross offers Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

American Red CrossNashville, TN – With the holiday season here, it is about time to make your annual to-do list to get everything ready for celebrating. This year, the American Red Cross would like you to add house fire prevention steps to your list as you prepare for all your family festivities.

Candles are very popular, especially around the holidays. But did you know that candles cause about 20 home fires a day on average in the United States? 

December is the peak month for home candle fires. If you are decorating with candles this holiday season, consider using the battery-operated kind. If you must use candles, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach of pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended. 

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays claiming more than 500 lives. These deadly fires can all be caused by improper candle use, cooking and baking mishaps, and faulty holiday decor.   

The American Red Cross offers these additional steps you can take to deck your halls safely: 

  • Check all holiday light cords to ensure they are not frayed or broken. Do not string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.  
  • Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house. 
  • Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard. 
  • If buying an artificial tree, look for a fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators, and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees. 
  • If you are getting a live tree, make sure it is fresh and keep it watered. To test if the tree is fresh, bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.  
  • Do not light the fireplace if you are hanging stockings or other decorations on the mantel. 
  • Check the labels of older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow. 
  • If you are using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.  

You can also help keep your family safe by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less.

Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download our free Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores). 

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members, and their families.

The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission.

For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross


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