State Fire Marshal emphasizes fire prevention when holiday decorating


For the Miami Valley Today

COLUMBUS – With stockings hung by chimneys with care, the State Fire Marshal reminds all Ohioans to stay safe during this holiday season. Many are decorating for the holidays, and that could increase the likelihood of a fire in your home.

“The holidays are a time for celebration, but Ohioans still need to be diligent when it comes to fire safety,” Marshal Kevin S. 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.

The following are tips on decorating safely:

• For fresh or artificial Christmas trees, eliminate heat by using LED lights. Unlike traditional bulbs, LEDs do not get hot and they 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.

In addition, the State Fire Marshal encourages Ohioans to have a working smoke alarm installed on every level of the home and inside and outside of each bedroom or sleeping area. Smoke alarms with a manufacture date of 2012 or earlier need to be replaced. For more fire safety tips, visit the State Fire Marshal’s website at

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