State Fire Marshal offers safety tips for decorating this holiday season

christmas tree lights.jpg

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – With the end of Thanksgiving, the next thing on a lot of people’s mind is decorating for the holidays. State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey is hoping you will consider his safety tips this year when decorating.

Christmas Tree Care

Buying a real Christmas tree this year? Ostroskey says to look for the freshest tree. If pre-cut, tap the bottom of the tree on the ground or brush your hand across the branches to see if any needles fall off. Needles will not fall off of a fresher tree. Another way to tell is bend a needle on the tree. If it breaks before bending in half, this tree could be too dry.

If you are not buying a real tree and looking for an artificial tree, look for one with a flame retardant label.

When placing you tree inside your house, do not block any doorways or windows in case of an emergency. Also, avoid any heaters, radiators and fireplaces.

“Place your tree carefully so it doesn’t block any exits you might need in an emergency,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “Although there are not a lot of Christmas tree fires, they are very serious when they do happen. The best way to prevent a Christmas tree fire is to water it well every day.”

It is also recommended to cut an inch off the bottom so the tree can absorb water better.

Decorating your tree

Ostroskey suggests using LED lights as they are cooler than older styles and use less electricity. If you are using lights from previous years, inspect them to make sure there are no frayed wires or defects.

If you are leaving the house or going to sleep, turn off the lights. You can also purchase a timer and set times for when the lights can go off and on.

Decorating the outside of your home

State Fire Marshall Ostroskey offered these tips when decorating the outside of your home:

  • Be sure to use only lights rated for outdoor use.
  • Consider replacing older outdoor lights with newer LED lights that are ‘greener’ and cooler.
  • Securely anchor outdoor lights and decorations against the wind and storms with insulated holders or hooks.
  • Use electrical connection protectors to keep water out.
  • All outdoor electrical decorations should be plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). You can buy portable units for outdoor use, or you can have them permanently installed by an electrician.
  • Do not overload circuits. 15 amp circuits support 1,800 watts and 20 amp circuits support 2,400 watts.
  • Do not drive nails, staples or tacks through wiring insulation; this can cause a fire.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and extend their life.

Check your smoke alarms

As always, check your smoke detectors to make sure they are properly working.

“Be sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order and review your home escape plan with family and guests,” said Ostroskey.

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