Holiday Decorating Dangers
Holiday decorations are responsible for many winter blues. Each year, 5,800 people are treated for injuries after falling while putting out their holiday decorations. City of Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone said, "Always have someone there footing the ladder so they don't fall off the ladder and break a leg or an ankle or worse."
Decorations are also responsible for many fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 38% of all fire deaths happen between December through February. Holiday decoration fires cause twice as many injuries and five times as many fatalities as other fires.
Chief Santone suggests taking the following steps to avoid your holiday going up in flames:
• Check extension and light cords for cracks or tears; any exposed wires could cause a fire.
• Be careful with extension cords. Make sure you're using outdoor-specific ones for your outside lights and don't overload them. Plugging-in more than three strands of lights could be dangerous.
• Know where your heat source is and keep all flammable items at least three feet away. Flammable items being too close to an open flame or alternative heat source are the cause of the fires responsible for one in every five fire death.
• Turn the lights off when you leave or if they have been on for an extended period of time. Lights can heat up and start fires; Chief Santone suggests switching to LED Christmas lights that burn cooler.
• If you have a real Christmas tree, keep it watered or it could become tinder. When the needles start falling off, the tree is losing moisture and becoming dryer; at that point, it is about time to get rid of your tree.
Because of the increased risk of fires, Chief Santone suggests checking your smoke detectors. "Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly, just in case there is an issue," he said, "a lot of it is just common sense and you should be fine."