You may have noticed Christmas decorations popping up in neighborhoods around town. Georgians are stringing lights on their houses and bushes and interior Christmas trees. Georgia’s Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, John F. King is calling on Georgians to exercise caution when decorating to avoid becoming a fire statistic.
Data from the National Fire Prevention Association shows that U.S. fire departments responded to 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees between 2013 and 2017. Around 44 percent of Christmas tree fires were due to lighting equipment while 25 percent could be traced to a heat source that had gotten too close to the tree. During that same time, U.S. fire departments responded to around 780 home structure fires per year that began with other Christmas decorations.
Commissioner King is urging some common-sense among Georgians as they spruce up their homes with holiday cheer:
• Make sure that your tree has fresh, green needles that do not fall off when they are touched.
• Keep your tree at least three feet from any heat source, including fireplaces, radiators, candles, or heat vents.
• Check your Christmas lights boxes to see if they have the label of a recognized testing laboratory and to verify whether they are indoor or outdoor lights.
• Do not use lit candles to decorate your tree.
• Turn off all decorations when you go to bed and when you leave the house.
• Follow the directions of light packaging to see how many strings can be safely linked together. • Inspect all lights and decorations for cracks, damaged sockets, and loose or bare wires. Unplug all electrical lights and devices before conducting any major or minor repair.
• Secure lights, decorations, and cords to prevent wind damage and ensure that wiring and insulation are not damaged.