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Illinois State Fire Marshal Stresses Safety When Decorating and Celebrating this Holiday Season

The holidays are here and that means many will be decorating their homes. Hanging up decorations is fun, but keep in mind, holiday decorations can increase your risk for a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) more than two of every five home decoration fires occur due to decorations being placed too close to a heat source. More than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles.

“More than half of home decoration fires in December are started by candles,” says State Fire Marshal Matt Perez. “The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve. Before you head to bed or out for the evening, blow out all lit candles,” says Fire Marshal Perez. “Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.”

Here are some tips to keep in mind to stay fire safe when decking the halls this holiday season.

• Be careful with holiday decorations. Make sure decorations are either flame retardant or flame resistant.
• Keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from decorations or anything that can catch fire.
• Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
• Check to make sure your lights are rated for indoor or outdoor use or both.
• Replace any light strands that have worn or broken cords. Make sure to read the recommendation for number of light strings you can string together.
• If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure to check water levels daily! It is not unusual for a tree to drink two gallons of water the first day it is in the stand.
• Keep real Christmas trees away from a heat source. It can dry out the tree quickly.

After a busy cooking day on Thanksgiving, before firing the oven back up preparing the next holiday meal, make sure to clean it! In case of an oven fire, turn off the oven and keep the door closed until it is cool. Clean cook tops as left-over grease can catch fire. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, but Christmas and Christmas Eve follow closely behind.

If you are planning to host family and friends during the holidays, make sure they are aware of your fire escape plan. Show them where all the exits are in your home and make sure they are aware of the meeting spot’s location.