‘Tis the season to be merry and bright, but that can quickly turn into a risky and dangerous situation if holiday decorations are not put up properly.
Whether using a real or artificial tree, the El Paso Fire Department suggests trees be placed away from exits.
After buying a real tree, the department recommends chopping off two inches from the bottom and then soaking in water to keep the tree fresh. If a tree dries out it can catch fire in a matter of seconds, according to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“If its a regular bulb, its important to keep a limit of three strands,” said Fire Inspector Wyatt Schmidt. “Those small lights are at a greater risk if they break, they can cause an electrical fire or physical fire.”
He said power cords should also not be connected to each other or bought cheap.
“Other power strips that you might see are less expensive and everybody likes to save a dollar, but when it comes to fires, its important you have something that says ‘protected’,” said Schmidt.
For those who set up Menorahs, it is recommended to place them away from curtains and not leave them unattended for too long. Schmidt recommends an alternative. “Its probably better to go with an electric or battery powered candle, they look just as good and last longer and they are definitely safer.”
Precautions can also be taken in the kitchen, by not hanging kitchen towels on the stove and keeping baking soda handy as a quick extinguisher for small kitchen fires.
As for fireplaces, it is best to clean them out, including the chimney before use. Make sure there is a protective screen or glass on the fireplace and that the flue is open.
In addition, the EPFD is offering the following outdoor safety tips:
- Open flames or fire pits are not allowed in public right of ways (Street or Sidewalks). When used on private property, they must be equipped with spark arrestors.
- The use of portable outdoor fireplaces should be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment,such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose, should be available for immediate use.
- Make sure any hot coal or wood is extinguished and properly disposed.
- Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet (4.5 meters) of a structure or combustible material.
- Only UL listed and approved portable outdoor gas-fired heating appliances utilizing a fuel gas container that is integral to the device shall be used.
- Portable outdoor gas-fired heating appliances shall be located not less than 5 feet to combustible decorations and combustible overhangs, awnings, sunshades or similar combustible attachments to buildings.
- Only approved DOT or ASME gas containers (for portable outdoor gas-fired heating appliances) shall be used.