While Elgin firefighters continue to investigate the cause of a recent house fire involving a Christmas tree, the Elgin Fire Department is recommending some holiday safety tips to ensure residents’ homes are protected.
“A fire displaced seven people in Elgin this past week,” said Elgin Fire Chief John Fahy. “The homeowner described hearing a pop by her Christmas tree before the tree ignited. While no one was injured in this incident, we want to ensure all residents use caution when setting up holiday decorations.”
Fahy recommends the following:
•Make sure needles are green and hard to pull back from the branches.The trunk should be sticky to the touch.
•Keep trees at least three-feet away from heat sources, including fireplaces and heating vents.
•Keep your tree in water throughout its recommended two-week life.
•Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation and broken or cracked sockets.
•Only use lights that have been tested and labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.
•Avoid overloading electrical outlets. Don not link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe.
•Remember that some lights are intended only for indoor use and shouldn’t be used outdoors.
•Never leave your decorative lights burning overnight or while you are away from home.
•Ensure candles are in stable holders and in a place where they cannot be easily knocked down.
•Never leave lit candles unattended. Lit candles should not be placed on or near a Christmas tree or anything else that can easily burn.
•Be sure candles are not within reach of children.
•Remove all obstructions from the fireplace and flue before starting a fire.
•Burn only well-seasoned wood.
•Do not start a fire with highly flammable fuels such as lighter fluid or gasoline.
•Charcoal and other coal products can give off toxic fumes and should not be used.
•Remember to have proper ventilation because the fire is using up oxygen. Crack open a window.
•Always use a fireplace screen to keep sparks from flying into a room.
•Fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected regularly.
“Also ensure smoke alarms are in working order,” said Fahy. “And as a precautionary measure, families should review a home escape plan so everyone in the household can get out quickly and safely.”
For more information, contact the Elgin Fire Department at (847) 931-6175.