FREEHOLD, NJ – It’s the time of year when houses are aglow from all of the beautiful holiday decorations and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Monmouth County Fire Marshal want to make sure this holiday season is merry, bright and safe!
“Holiday decorations are one of the most enjoyable parts of the season, but we need to remember that some of these decorations can pose a fire risk if we are not careful,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Patrick Impreveduto, liaison the Monmouth County Fire Marshal and Fire Academy. “There are three basic rules to keep in mind over the holiday season to help you stay safe from an accidental fire: remember to water your tree, check for frayed cords and wires and be cautious when using lit candles.”
Fire safety tips for the Christmas tree include:
- When selecting a Christmas tree, inspect the tree to make sure it is fresh with green needles that do not fall off when touching it.
- Cutting two inches from the base of the trunk before placing the tree in the stand.
- Making sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
- Keeping the tree away from heat sources such as a fire places, radiators, candles or heat vents. The heat will dry out the tree.
- Keeping the tree watered at all times by making sure the stand is filled with water daily.
- Never using lit candles as a decoration on the tree.
- Always turning off the tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Removing the tree once the holiday is over. Dried out Christmas trees are a danger.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 12% of home candle fires started with decorations compared to 4% throughout the rest of the year.
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Fire safety tips for safe candle use include:
- Using battery operated candles. They look, smell and feel like real candles.
- Keeping lit candles away from decorations and other objects that are flammable.
- Making sure that lit candles are in a stable holder and place on a level surface if you are using regular candle
- Not leaving candles unattended or leave the house with lit candles.
- Not placing lit candles in a window with blinds or curtains.
- Keeping matches and lighters away from children in locked cabinets if you are going to use regular candles.
“If you are using lit candles during the holiday season, be safe and keep children and pets away from the candle,” said Monmouth County Fire Marshal Fred Migliaccio. “One third of home fires are started by unattended candles in addition to defective decorations.”
Fire safety tips for other holiday decorations include:
- Choosing decorations that are flame resistant.
- Keeping in mind some string lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replacing any string lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulbs.
- Not overloading electrical outlets.
- Keeping decorations away from windows and doorways.
- Making sure to test your smoke alarms.
The NFPA estimated that in the years between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 780 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees. These fires caused an annual average of three civilian fire deaths, 34 civilian fire injuries and $12 million in direct property damage.
“We want our residents of Monmouth County to have a happy and safe holiday season,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Impreveduto. “Be mindful of these simple suggestions to help protect your home from fires—and remember to check your smoke alarms all year long.”
To bring the message to life, Deputy Director Patrick Impreveduto and Monmouth County Fire Marshal Fred Migliaccio have released a holiday fire safety video, which can be viewed on Monmouth County’s website www.visitmonmouth.com and the County’s social media channels.
For more information about the Monmouth County Fire Marshal, go to www.visitmonmouth.com.