EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Now that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, El Paso Fire Department wants to remind the Borderland not to over stack power strips in surge protectors to avoid setting up a fire when putting up the Christmas tree.

It’s easy for a tree to catch on fire with over stacked power strips, embers flying out from fireplaces and even the Christmas tree lights from overheating. 

Enrique Dueñas public information officer for El Paso Fire Department says the common fires that happen in El Paso during the Christmas season started with overheated power strips. 

“We see a lot of people trying to decorate as much as they can to get that festive feeling of the season. However, if you’re going to be out there, putting out lights making sure, you know they don’t see a chain of power extensions, making sure not to see power strips and making sure, they’re following the manual factory instructions. That’s why we see the most here in El Paso, smoke alarms going off because there is plastic melting, off the power strips,” Dueñas said.  

According to the National Fire Research Laboratory, U.S. firefighters respond to 200 Christmas tree fires per year. Leading to property loss, injuries and even deaths. 

Dueñas says carbon monoxide poisoning is another common incident that has occurred during the holidays.

“Which is lethal as we know, sadly we had a year ago that couple that passed away inside of their house. And the danger with that with carbon monoxide, there’s no smell, you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, so it’s pretty dangerous, because you don’t know it is happening, you start feeling faint, you start using unconsciousness.”    

Dueñas also says, it’s best to use LED candles since they’re cheaper and safer. However, if you are going to light up real candles, remember to blow them out before leaving the house. 

Also make sure all smoke alarms have batteries and are in every room of the house. If you don’t, have one, you can dial 311 for free smoke alarms. 

As for your furnace and AC systems, make sure they are properly serviced. If you’re not sure, hire a professional to check they’re working properly. 

Keep in mind, use outdoor power cords for outdoor lights.

Do not over connect extension cords in surge protectors. They can melt and are only meant for the number that is designated. 

When using the fireplace, use a grate and make sure it works properly. Avoid having drapes, blankets, even stockings close to the fireplace since embers can fly out. 

Last but not least, if you do have a real tree, get one that is fully green and not dry. As well as water it often to avoid it from burning. 

After the Christmas season is over, and you are planning to throw away your real Christmas tree. Take it to environmental services or an authorized place to dispose it properly since it can be a fire hazard if left at home to dry.

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