GALLIPOLIS — Many will begin our celebration of Christmas with putting up a Christmas tree and decorating our homes.
Gallipolis Fire Chief Keith Elliott recommends that all indoor and outdoor electric lights that are purchased should have the label of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and use the lights according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
“Outdoor lights are specifically labeled for outdoor use. Outdoor lights should be fastened securely and placed on a ground fault interrupter circuit,” he said. “Do not connect too many light sets together and never use extension cords that are worn or cracked. Do not place electric cords under rugs or over sharp objects and remember to turn off decorative lights when you go to bed or leave the house.”
Elliott also offered suggestions about the use of Christmas trees as it concerns lights.
“Live Christmas trees should be as fresh as possible,” he said. “Make a fresh cut at the base of the trunk, and place the tree in a sturdy stand; water it daily. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
Elliott said 1 in 5 holiday fires occur because a heat source is too close to the tree.
“Locate the tree as far away from heat sources as possible,” he said. “Never place lighted candles on or near the tree, or where the tree may fall if knocked over by a pet or child. And remember not to block your primary or alternative escape routes with a tree, decorations or presents.”
Some additional safety tips recommended by the fire department for the holiday are:
• Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from objects that can burn and out of the reach of children.
• If the power goes out, make certain that all electrical appliances, such as stoves, electric space heaters and hair dryers, are in the OFF position.
• Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
• Make sure that your home’s smoke alarms are in proper working order. All smoke alarms should be tested monthly and batteries replaced twice a year. Some smoke alarms may be dependent on your home’s electrical service and may not work during a power outage. Check to see if your smoke alarm uses a back-up battery and if so, replace those twice a year. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, inside and outside bedrooms.