Keep the Holidays From Going Up in Flames

Firefighters offer tips on avoiding safety, fire hazards

As holiday decorations go up in homes, firefighters are issuing warnings about fire and safety hazards.

Firefighters say the message is more effective if they demonstrate easily dried-out trees can burn.

The tree in their demonstration was fully engulfed in flames in less than 10 seconds. Two-thirds of it was gone after about one minute. Had the tree been inside a house, the furniture, curtains and gifts would have burned, too.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says people should check the freshness of their tree. People can grab the tree's branches and make sure the needles don't fall out.

Once the tree is inside the home, people should give it lots of water and keep watering it.

"If you start seeing the needles dropping off, you know that it's drying out, and you probably need to start making plans to get it out of your house," said Ernest Gurule, of Dallas Fire Rescue.

Fire crews also recommend people make sure the wires on their tree lights aren't frayed. If the lights are frayed, people should get new ones, only buying lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally recognized library.

While candles might be beautiful and aromatic, firefighters recommend keeping them away from trees.

"We've already had 11 fire deaths in Dallas in 2008," Gurule said. "We want to keep it at that; 11 is too many."

Information about lights that have been recalled can be found on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Web site at:

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