Red Cross offering safety tips as people begin decorating their house for Christmas

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The Red Cross has offered tips to help keep your home safe as you decorate for the holidays (Photo: WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — December is filled with many celebrations and holidays, and after Thanksgiving you might be looking to start decorating your home.

The American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina is offering tips to help you have a festive but safe holiday season. 

Candles are very popular, especially around the holidays. But candles also increase the risk of fire. Their popularity leads to nearly three times as many candle fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.


The Red Cross offers these tips you can follow to decorate your home safely:

  1. Check all holiday light cords to ensure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.
  2. Turn off all holiday lights and decorations when going to bed or leaving the house.
  3. 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 an electrocution or fire hazard.
  4. If buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.
  5. If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered. To test if the tree is fresh, bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  6. Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings or other decorations on the mantel.
  7. 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.
  8. If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
  9. Put your menorah on a non-flammable surface — stone or marble, steel, or glass.
  10. If you put the menorah on a table, make sure the menorah won’t tip over if the table is bumped.
  11. Don’t leave the menorah unattended, and don’t leave the room where candles are burning.
  12. Keep the menorah high enough that children or pets can’t reach it.
  13. Be especially cautious when children are lighting the candles. An adult should always be present to provide support and to intervene if necessary.


More home fires start in the kitchen than any other room in the house, and more kitchen fires start during holiday season than any other time of the year.

  1. Never turn away or leave the stovetop unattended while cooking with oil. If you must turn away, turn off the heat and remove the oil from the hot surface.
  2. Keep anything that might catch fire away from the stovetop.
  3. Keep kids safe by providing a yard of protection. Keep them at least three feet away from all exposed sides of the stovetop.
  4. When you are done cooking, turn off the heating element and move the pan to a cool location.
  5. Pouring water on a grease fire can spread the flames. Have a pan lid or cookie sheet nearby when you fry. If a pan catches fire, turn off the heat immediately and slide the metal sheet over the burning pan.
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