WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The State Fire Marshal asking residents to use caution as we approach the holiday season, as things like extension cords and surge protectors could cause a fire if not used properly.

“Extension cords can be convenient, but they should always be used safely,” said Westford Fire Chief Joseph Targ. “Check your extension cord before use and discard it if the insulation is cracked, worn, or damaged. Replacing the cord is much less expensive than replacing all the items that can burn in a fire.”

This past Friday, a fire started in Westford after Christmas lights were powered by two extension cords linked together.

Lt. Spear of the West Springfield Fire Department told 22News you can stay safe by following directions.

“Some of the risks that come along with it would include overheating if you were to connect two shorter cords to go a longer distance. So if you need a longer distance, just go buy that longer cord to prevent the overheating that could potentially end in a fire,” said Lt. Spear.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical malfunction is the cause of more than 45,000 fires every year across the country. Electrical fires are the second leading cause of fire deaths in Massachusetts. From 2015 – 2019, Massachusetts fire departments reported 2,751 home fires caused by electrical problems. These fires caused 27 civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, 72 fire service injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $38.5 million.

Another way to prevent electrical fires is to limit the number of devices plugged into any single outlet or circuit. Plugging too many things into a single outlet or circuit can overload them and start fires. Plug all heat-producing and major appliances like space heaters, irons, toasters and air conditioners directly into the wall outlet; otherwise, the safety mechanism provided by circuit breakers and fuses is nullified. Do not link extension cords together; each connection is another possible failure point.