State fire marshal's office reminds residents to prevent home fires
by using holiday decorations properly
holiday lights & other decorations could lead to home fires
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[December 14, 2013]
SPRINGFIELD — The Office of the
Illinois State Fire Marshal reminds residents to use caution with
holiday decorations, as certain holiday lights and other decorations
with line voltage can be directly linked to fires.
In an effort to prevent fire incidents, old holiday decorations and
extension cords should be checked and tested before use.
"Inspecting old decorations and discarding defective ones should
be followed in order to avoid fire accidents," said State Fire
Marshal Larry Matkaitis. "We urge families to avoid overloading
extension cords with holiday decorations."
In Illinois, 3,548 fires were reported during December last year.
Of those fires, 12 were associated with Christmas trees, holiday
decorations and other types of recreational materials, resulting in
$85,227 in property losses.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, on
average, electrical failures and malfunctions are found in nearly 30
percent of home structure fires related to Christmas trees. Close to
half of the cases occur during December. Another 18 percent of fires
are linked to some type of heat source too close to the Christmas
tree. Other incidents point at decorative lights plugged into line
It is important for the public to remember that natural trees
carry a higher risk of fire compared with artificial ones.
Therefore, to prevent fires related to natural trees, they should be
kept watered and moist.
The Office of the Illinois Fire Marshal offers the following tips
For an artificial
tree, be sure it's labeled, certified or identified by the
manufacturer as fire-resistant.
For a fresh tree,
make sure the green needles don't fall off when touched. Before
placing it in a stand, cut 1 to 2 inches from the base of the
trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to water the
Make sure the tree
is not blocking an exit and is at least 3 feet away from any
heat source such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents,
space heaters or lights.
Always turn off
Christmas tree lights before leaving the room or going to bed.
After the holidays, discard the tree.
Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the
home or garage.
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Use lights that
have the label of an independent testing laboratory, and make
sure you know whether the lights are designed for indoor or
Replace strings of
lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
manufacturer's instructions for the number of LED strands safe
Never use lit
candles to decorate the tree.
Bring outdoor electrical lights inside
after the holidays to prevent hazards and to make them last
December is the peak month for home candle fires, with Christmas
Eve and Christmas Day representing two of the top five days for
associated fires. More than half of all candle fires start when
candles are placed too close to combustible household items (i.e.,
curtains, lamp shades, other fabrics and plastic) or holiday
decorations (i.e., trees, garland, stockings, wrapping paper and
wrapped, boxed gifts).
flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles.
If you do use
traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches away from
anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when you
leave the room or go to bed.
that are sturdy, won't tip over and are placed on uncluttered
candles in the bedroom, where 2 of 5 U.S. candle fires begin, or
other areas where people may fall asleep.
Never leave a
child alone in a room with a burning candle.
Always put candles out before leaving
For more information about fire safety and prevention, visit
Office of the State Fire
received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]