Covington Fire urges caution with holiday candles, decorations

COVINGTON -- This time of year is known for special holiday observances. Unfortunately, those observances sometimes lead to trouble if the appropriate care isn't taken.

The Covington Fire Department is advising residents to exercise caution with holiday decorations and candles in order to prevent a tragedy that would mar the holiday season.

CFD Fire Life Safety Education Specialist Randy Ross said building fires occur throughout the year, but this time of year the cause can often be attributed to candles, outside decorations or faulty heating equipment.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, each year fires that occur during the holiday season claim the lives of more than 400 Americans, injure 1,650 more, and cause more than $990 million in damage.

The Covington Fire Department offers the following life-saving tips to ensure that area residents have a safe and happy holiday season.

-- Preventing Christmas tree fires

When selecting a live tree for your home the needles should be green and hard to pull from the branches. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by needles that are dried out and falling off. This means the tree has probably dried out and is a fire hazard.

-- Caring for the tree

Do not place the tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree and cause it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Keep the tree stand filled with water and do note leave the tree up more than a few weeks.

-- Disposing of the tree

Never put tree branches in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center.

-- Candles

Avoid using lit candles. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

-- Holiday lights

Maintain your holiday lights by inspecting them each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory. Do not link more than three strands together to avoid overloading the electrical outlets.

-- Wrapping paper

Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace or wood burning stove. It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help and remember to practice your home escape plan.