Winterville Fire Department shares at-home safety tips for holidays

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People are getting in the holiday spirit, bringing out their boxes of decorations from the attic and decorating the house. 

However, some of those decorations may pose fire hazards if not handled properly. 

Winterville Fire Department Assistant Chief Tony Smart said decorations cause 40 percent of fires during the holidays. 

“Candles are the real problem,” Smart said. “They do not need to leave candles burning if they are not there.” 

In addition, he said it is important to turn your tree lights off when you aren’t home. 

“There are lights that you use that are appropriate for indoor versus outdoor use,” Smart said. “You cannot use them for both.” 

When it comes to the kitchen, cooking is the leading cause of all house fires. 

“This is a time of year when kitchens are much more active,” Smart said. “We call upon our residents to make sure they are attentive and do not have unnecessary distractions.” 

People should keep fire extinguishers in the house, check smoke alarms, practice an escape plan, use surge protectors on electrical outlets, and monitor real and artificial Christmas trees.

“If you rub your hands across anything whether it is a live tree or an artificial tree and it starts coming apart in your hands, more than likely it is so dry that it could present a problem.” 

Smart said it is important to follow these steps to make sure the holidays are enjoyable for all. 

“If you do it right, it will be one that will last for memories for a lifetime,” Smart said. “If it is done wrong, those same memories can be tragic and that is not something we want to see happen in our communities.” 

Smart said always keep an eye on children and pets.

Call the fire department immediately if anything happens as fires double in size as each minute passes. 

When it comes to space heaters, make sure you never plug them into extension cords. 

Make sure they are UL approved so if there is an accident, it will cut off immediately. 

Make sure there is nothing combustible within a three-foot radius of the space heater. 

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