American Red Cross: Candle fires peak in December

National News

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Decorating with holiday candles? Consider the flameless kind, as December is the peak month for candle fires. The risk is so common that nearly one-third of people leave a room or fall asleep while burning candles, according to a 2020 national American Red Cross survey.  

“Decorating our homes safely during the holidays will allow us to enjoy the season while protecting our families,” said Kevin Coffey, Regional CEO, American Red Cross Eastern New York Region. “If candles are a part of your holiday celebration, please do not leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn and place them out of reach from children and pets. If you can, consider using flameless candles, which are a safer option.” 

The American Red Cross Eastern New York Region urges everyone to follow these decorating safety tips to prevent fires and injuries: 

  • Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord. Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house. 
  • Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid electrocution or fire hazard. 
  • Look for the fire-resistant label when buying an artificial tree. Keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.  
  • If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.  
  • Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings on the mantel. 
  • Check the labels of older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow. 
  • Have good, stable placement when using a ladder and wear shoes that allow for good traction.  

Additionally, as a regular routine, test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late. 

Visit the Red Cross website for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app. 

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