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10 ways to stay safe as you deck the halls  

American Red Cross offers safety tips to help prevent home fires caused by holiday decorations

The holiday season is here, and the American Red Cross wants everyone to stay safe from home fires as they decorate their homes for the upcoming festivities.

Decorations like trees, lights and candles increase the risk of home fires during the holidays—with Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day being the top three days for home candle fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The Red Cross wants people to stay safe from home fires—the nation’s most frequent disaster—by testing their smoke alarms and practicing their home fire escape plan with free resources at In addition, you can follow these 10 simple safety tips as you put up lights and ornaments:

  1. Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord.
  2. If buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
  3. If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  4. If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
  5. When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
  6. If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that provide good traction.
  7. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  8. Don’t forget to turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
  9. Keep children, pets and decorations away from candles.
  10. If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVE LIVES Every eight minutes, donations to the Red Cross help someone affected by a disaster—most often, home fires. Sadly, these events take more lives each year than all other natural disasters combined in the U.S. To prevent these tragedies, the Red Cross launched the national Home Fire Campaign in October 2014, working with volunteers and community partners to install free smoke alarms and help families create escape plans.

Through the campaign, the Red Cross and its partners have reached more than 1.6 million people and helped save at least 474 lives, including those of at least eight Mainers, across the country by:

  • Installing more than 1.5 million free smoke alarms
  • Making 623,000 households safer from the threat of home fires
  • Reaching more than 1.2 million children through youth preparedness programs

You can help save lives by making a financial donation to support our mission, signing up to become a volunteer or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires. Visit to learn more.

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