Firefighters urge safety during Christmas season

Columbus firefighters are urging you to be safe while you are enjoying your Christmas celebrations.

Capt. Mike Wilson says the key is to be aware of what you have in your home and what the dangers might be.

if you have a live tree, Wilson to make sure you keep it well hydrated.

“The live Christmas trees, when they are dry, they can ignite and rapidly burn, which spreads fire very quickly through a home,” Wilson said.

Wilson also suggested you should never string more than three strands of Christmas lights together at a time. If you are using an artificial tree with pre-installed lights, you should check it before setting it up to make sure there are no obviously frayed wires. And if you are having intermittent light problems, such as flickering or turning off and on, it could be a short in the lights. In that case, it would be better to forgo using the installed lighting and instead use separate strands of lights.

Wilson also says to make sure to keep any flammable material away from open flames such as candles. He recommends keeping a clear area three feet around drapes and other possible fuel sources.

“When we talk about candle safety… it is important to remember that the candles have to be a safe distance away from any combustible material,” Wilson said. “It is very important to remember that.”

Wilson says that you should take care if you are hanging stockings on the mantle.

“If you are using a wood burinigng fireplace and you plan on hanging stockings or decorations from that area, you might want to consider having a spark arrester on the front of the fireplace to prevent popping wood from expelling hot embers out into the living space area,” Wilson said.

“Make sure that the materials you are using aren’t so close that they could ignite and spread a fire throughout the home.”

And he stressed the importance of having working smoke detectors and that families have a fire escape plan in place and that they have practiced. That safety tip goes year-round, Wilson said.