TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - With less than a month until Christmas and less than a week until Hanukkah, holiday decor is out in full force, but first responders warn that everyone needs to be careful with their decorations.
“A lot of people believe that it’s just not going to happen to them and that’s a bad trap to fall into because nobody plans on having an accidental fire. That’s why we call them accidental," Chief John Walka of the Rural Metro Fire Department said.
The biggest thing people need to be mindful of are flammable items. Walka says the three biggest issues he and his crew see are with candles, trees, and anything electrical.
“Christmas decorations and fires that involve decorations can actually be fires that are more intense," Walka said. "They cause more damage and they can actually cause more injuries and more fatalities, unfortunately.”
When it comes to trees, crews say the biggest issues are with real ones. Once you get your tree home make sure you immediately soak the base of it in warm water so it stays moist longer, which helps to make it less prone to fire prone.
If you’re planning to use a fake tree, Walka advises that you make sure it’s fire-resistant.
When it comes to electrical items like holiday lights, firefighters say you have to be smart with them. Make sure you go through and check all of your lights and other electrical items before putting them up to make sure there’s no frayed or split wires. Also, don’t plug too many things into one outlet.
First responders say candles cause about half of the house fires during this time of year. They advise that candles need to be at least a foot from anything flammable and that they need to be on a sturdy and even surface so that they don’t fall over.
“The most common cause ... in general is typically candles. In fact even during the non-holiday we see a lot of candle fires," Walka said. "People use them all the time. When they ... have a problem with candles it’s because they’re unattended.”
One other thing Walka warns that people need to look out for during the holidays is carbon monoxide poisoning because many of us are cooking or using heaters.