Dawson County Government News

Put Fire Safety at Top of Your Christmas List

11/28/11 (Dawson County, GA)  Each year hospital emergency rooms treat about 8,100 people for injuries such as falls, cuts, and shocks related to holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees according to the National Safety Council.

“House fires during the winter holiday season kill about 500 and cause more than $500 million in property loss and damage,” reports Dawson County Emergency Services Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield.

“Christmas trees are involved in more than 400 fires annually,” said Satterfield. “More than four of every ten Christmas tree fires are caused by an electrical problem or malfunction. One in four fires resulted from a heat source placed too close to the tree and children playing with fire started seven percent.”

Dawson County Emergency Services urges citizens to have a safe and happy holiday season by following these safety tips:

  • Check for freshness. A fresh tree is green and needles should be hard to pull off from branches.
  • Trunk butt should be sticky with resin and when tapped on the ground the tree should not lose too many needles.
  • Cut off 1-2 inches of the trunk to help absorb water and buy a tree stand that holds at least 1 gallon of water. Check the water level every day.
  • Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Keep a 3-foot distance from heaters, fireplaces, radiators or other heat sources.
  • Avoiding using candles. If you do use candles, ensure they are in a stable holder and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Do not leave lit candles    unattended, never put candles on a Christmas tree and never leave the house with candles burning.
  • Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
  • Use no more than three standard size sets of lights per single extension cord and avoid overloading electrical outlets.
  • Periodically check the wires. They should not be warm to the touch.
  • If using an artificial tree make sure that it’s flame retardant.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in a house or garage, or placed against the house.

Dawson County Emergency Services is committed to the preservation of the lives and property of the citizens of Dawson County.

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