Beware of holiday decorating dangers, NY Firemen’s Association warns
Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 5:42 pm

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York says everyone should consider potential fire hazards when decorating for the holidays.

FASNY is reminding New Yorkers to properly use all holiday items such as decorations, as they can cause fires, injuries and even death.

According to the organization fires are just as likely, or more likely, to happen after the holidays as Christmas trees begin to dry out and presents, wrapping paper and unattended decorations clutter the house.

FASNY offers the following safety tips:

When choosing a Christmas tree:

• Check a tree for dryness while at the seller’s lot – shake the trunk above a light-colored surface and watch for falling needles.

• Avoid trees with an artificial-looking green tint on the branches or trunk – these trees may have been spray-painted to improve their appearance. The paint used may be combustible or hazardous.

• Have the merchant saw off an inch or two from the trunk of the tree to help keep the tree fresh longer at home.

• When disposing of a tree, do not leave it inside a home or building; do not place it against the exterior of a home or building.

When choosing holiday decorations and lighting:

• When possible, choose decorations made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.

• Purchase lights and electrical decorations stamped with the name or symbol of an independent testing lab – for example, “UL”, or Underwiters’ Laboratories – and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.

• Carefully inspect new and previously used light strands. Look for frayed cables and replace any damaged or missing bulbs before plugging lights in.

• Do not overload extension cords, “power strips” and electrical outlets.

• When using power cords to illuminate outdoor displays, ensure that they are designated for external or outdoor use only – never use power cords that are meant for indoor use.

• Turn lights off overnight. If possible, use a timer device to turn your lights off automatically.

If you light holiday candles or candelabras (menorahs, window candles, etc.):

• Keep lighted candles and candelabras at least one foot away from any combustible materials. Do not place candles anywhere near window curtains, furniture, wrapped gifts or anything else that could ignite.

• Place candles and candelabras where they cannot be knocked down or tipped/blown over. If possible, keep the candle inside a weighted holder or one with a wide base.

• Extinguish a candle before it burns to within two inches of its holder.

• Never leave a lighted candle unattended – extinguish a candle before leaving the room. Discourage the use of candles in bedrooms and other areas where you may fall asleep.

• Store matches and lighters in high places, out of the reach of children.

• Consider using battery-powered candles instead; if using electrical, “plug-in” candles - follow manufacturers’ instructions.