Don’t let fire ignite the holiday

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If a winter storm were to knock out power, our house would be a beacon of light. The man of the house is candle-obsessed.

Two of every five holiday house fires are started by candles, so it’s a wonder our house still stands. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of decoration fires happen because something was placed too close to a heat source. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, they are more likely to be serious, especially by January when the tree has dried out.

The NFPA offers these holiday safety tips:


• Choose flame-resistant or retardant decorations.

• Keep candles away from other items, and never put one in a tree.

• Lights: Check and respect labeled indoor/outdoor uses. Replace strings with worn or broken cords, or loose bulbs. Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so cords aren’t damaged.

• Keep decorations away from windows and doors.

• Turn off all lights before going to bed.

Choosing a tree

• Look for fresh, green needles which don’t fall off when touched.

• Before placing in the stand, cut 2 inches from the base, and keep it at least 3 feet from any heat source, such as a fireplace, radiator, or heat vent. Don’t let it block an exit. Add water daily.


• Test smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.

• Keep children and pets away from candles.

• Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.

• Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.

• Ask smokers to smoke outside, and to keep their smoking materials with them, preventing access by children. Provide large, deep ashtrays, and wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.

After Christmas get rid of the tree quickly. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home, garage, or yard. Check this newspaper later for free tree recycling programs.

And please stay safe for the holidays.


Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who admittedly enjoys the ambiance of a candlelit room. Contact her at

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