Columbia Fire Department warns residents to be aware of increased fire hazards around the holidays
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — While Christmas decorations may be fun to put up, they can also be major fire hazards.
Nationwide, Christmas trees and decorations account for almost a thousand house fires a year according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“We just want everybody to have a safe and happy holiday. Many people are going to be having holiday get-togethers,” said Mike DeSumma, Columbia Fire Department public information officer. “When it comes to cooking, make sure you keep an eye on it. You can’t leave that unattended.”
While the holidays are a festive period, it’s also a busy period for the Columbia Fire Department due to the many hazards associated with the holidays and colder weather.
“A lot of people like to put up lights in their house. We highly recommend that you look over your lights before you put them up. You want those wires to be in good condition,” DeSumma said. “If you’re putting them outside, you especially want to make sure they’re in good working condition because they will be exposed to the elements.”
DeSumma says that one of the major fire hazards this time of year are live Christmas trees.
“We just recommend to people that if you get a live Christmas tree, put it in water,” he said. “Make sure you cut the edge of the trunk off so it can drink the water.”
Columbia Fire Department advises watering your tree twice a day and to get rid of it when the needles begin falling off the branches.
Other fire hazards not just specific to the holidays include practices such as burning candles or plugging in too many cords.
“That’s a fire hazard 365 days a year. Whether it’s an extension cord or surge protector, don’t overload it,” DeSumma said. “Some decorations you have might need to be plugged directly into the wall.”
Space heaters are one appliance that you should not plug into an extension cord.
“They need to be plugged directly into the wall because their specifications require that much power,” the public information officer said. “Make sure they’re powered correctly, never leave them unattended and keep them a safe distance away from anything that can burn. They need to be on a hard surface as well. Carpeting can be combustible.”
To protect yourself from fire hazards any time of year, DeSumma urges residents to make sure they have a working smoke alarm or contact the fire department if you need one.