State Fire Marshal: ‘Deck the Halls’ safely


COLUMBUS — When it comes to decorating for the holidays, the State Fire Marshal reminds Ohioans to stay safe this festive season.

“The holidays are a time for celebration, but Ohioans still need to be diligent when it comes to fire safety,” Marshal Kevin Reardon said. “When decorating, simple steps can help you eliminate fire risks in your home and ensure your holiday is an enjoyable one.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, one of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Christmas tree fires are more serious than typical home fires with one of every 31 reported Christmas tree fires resulting in a fatality. On average, just one in 144 typical home fires do. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. See how quickly they can turn deadly.

Decoration safety

For fresh or artificial Christmas trees, try using LED lights. Unlike traditional bulbs, LEDs use 75% to 90% less electricity for the same amount of light.

Purchase lights that bear the label of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Inspect lights each year and throw them away if they have frayed or pinched wires.

Outdoor lights are specifically labeled for outdoor use. They should be fastened securely and placed on a ground fault interrupter circuit.

Do not connect too many light sets together and never use extension cords that are worn or cracked. Do not run them under rugs or over sharp objects.

Turn off lights and blow out candles when you go to bed or leave the house.

Live Christmas trees should be as fresh as possible. Make a fresh cut at the base of the trunk, and place the tree in a sturdy stand; water it daily. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.

Locate the tree as far away from heat sources as possible. Never place lit candles on or near the tree, or where the tree may fall if knocked over by a pet or child.

Dispose of your tree shortly after Christmas or when it becomes dry.

Do not block your primary or alternate escape routes with a tree, decorations or presents.

Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.

If you do use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be knocked down easily.

The State Fire Marshal’s Fire Prevention Bureau recently partnered with AEP Ohio to share important reminders on cooking safety, decoration safety, and other fire safety prevention tips. Check out this Holiday Fire Safety video at created to keep Ohio safe through the holidays.

For more fire safety resources, visit the State Fire Marshal’s website at

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