Holiday Safety Tips with NWS Chief Adkins

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By Tammy Moore Teague

This is part one of a two-part series featuring holiday safety tips from Northwest Scott Fire Department Chief Donnie Adkins.

Christmas lights safety:

Very few things are as unique to the winter holiday season as the custom of decorating your home and yard. More than 86% of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations. Almost two-third’s use electric lights in their indoor decorating scheme, while more than half use lighted decorations outside their homes. More than 60% of those who decorate their homes for the holiday utilize at least one extension cord.

While holiday lighting and electrical decorations do contribute to the splendor of the season, they can also significantly increase the risk of fires and electrical injuries if not used safely. Over-decorating the home can lead to disastrous consequences. Give your loved ones and yourself the gift of safety. If you plan to add to or replace some of your holiday decorations this season planning and implementing your lighting design is essential.

* Do not allow children to handle lighting products.
* Turn off lights when asleep or away from home.
* Never use indoor extension cords for outside lighting.
* Unplug light strings before changing bulbs.
* Do not overload extension cords.
* Do not use indoor lights outdoors.
* Never place a rug or cover an extension cord.
* Check all lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
* Replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
* Always read product safety labels before product use.
* Candles start almost half of all home decoration fires. Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep. Be sure the wick ember is no longer glowing.
* Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.
* Keep burning candles out of the reach of children and pets.
* Trim candlewicks to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning and dripping.
* Always use a candle-holder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy, and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
* Be sure the candle-holder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface. This can help prevent heat damage to underlying surfaces and prevent glass containers from breaking.
* Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
* Always read and follow the manufacturer’s use and safety instructions carefully. Don’t burn a candle longer than the manufacturer recommends.
* Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents. This will help prevent rapid, uneven burning, and avoid flame flare-ups and sooting. Drafts can also blow nearby lightweight items into the flame where they could catch fire.
* Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room. Don’t burn too many candles in a small room or in a “tight” home where air exchange is limited.
* Don’t burn a candle all the way down. Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains or ½ inch if in a container.
* Never touch or move a burning candle or container candle when the wax is liquid.
* Never use a knife or sharp object to remove wax drippings from a glass holder. It might scratch, weaken, or cause the glass to break upon subsequent use.
* Place burning candles at least three inches apart from one another. This helps ensure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts to cause improper burning.
* Use a snuffer to extinguish a candle. It’s the safest way to prevent hot wax splatters.
* Never extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might cause a glass container to break.
* Be very careful if using candles during a power outage. Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are safer sources of light during a power failure.
* Extinguish a candle if it repeatedly smokes, flickers, or the flame becomes too high. The candle isn’t burning properly. Cool, trim the wick, then check for drafts before relighting.
* Never use a candle as a night light.
* Cords of all kinds need to be properly inspected, used and stored to reduce your risk of a fire. Follow these tips to help you keep cords out of sight but also safely on your mind. Taking the following safety precautions to ensure that this special time of year does not result in a decoration-related tragedy.
* While decorative lights and other electrical decorations add to the splendor of the season, they can increase the risks of fire and electrical injuries if not used safely.

Take steps to protect your home and family from electrical and fire hazards related to outdoor holiday decorations.

Tomorrow, in part two, Adkins will offer Christmas tree safety instructions.

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