Take care with lights

Published 10:25 pm Monday, November 28, 2011

While you’re shopping for that perfect gift or deciding which family member’s house to stakeout this holiday season, don’t forget to make safety your No. 1 priority.

If you’re shopping for Christmas trees or decorative lights, local officials give some do’s and dont’s to playing it safe.

“The main thing is, if using a live tree, keep it watered so it won’t dry out easily,” Selma Fire Battalion Chief Alton Green said. “Make sure it comes with a dish, or something at the bottom to catch water … use LED lights, they’re a little more expensive but they don’t get hot and they’re safer.”

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Using extension cords, Green said, can also be a fire hazard.

“People tend to use thin extension cords — those are a no-no,” Green said. “We prefer people to use power strips, which are much safer to use.”

Green said around this time of year, fires caused from Christmas tree lighting are not that common.

“We get calls once a week,” Green said. “Closer to Christmas we usually get a couple of fires here and there. Generally a lot of people tend to use artificial trees, which are safer. Real trees, once they dry out they’re like kindle wood — (they’re) easier to burn.”

And though Christmas tree fires aren’t frequent, Green said the department gets a lot of calls regarding hot food left alone on stove tops.

“Never leave food unattended,” Green said. “Usually people themselves stop it (smoke) before it progresses. You never want to take your mind from your food.”

Green gives more tips on how to keep you and your home safe during the Christmas season.

Always keep space heaters three feet away from anything that can burn.

Never leave cooked food unattended.

Never overload outlets. For safety, Green said, if there are two outlets, use two plugs.

Make sure to perform extra checks with smoke detectors. Make sure they are in working condition and batteries are checked and replaced often.

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