Fire officials offer area prevention tips

First Posted: 12/7/2009

With the added dangers that candles and Christmas trees bring this time of year, Surry County Fire Marshal Doug Jones offered some tips to help keep homeowners safe.
Jones said the biggest thing this time of year is to make sure that live Christmas trees stay watered.
Before you decorate the tree, make sure it has been freshly cut and is not sealed off. The tree needs to be able to drink the water you are putting in the base. Trees need to be watered often, Jones said.
Jones said candles cause a lot of fires this time of year.
I prefer you not burn candles at all, but if you do, make sure they are blown out before you go to bed or leave. Make sure they are in a secure base, Jones said.
Last Monday, Jones responded to a fire on Maple Drive. He said he believes that fire was started by a coffee maker that was plugged in but not in use.
You need to make sure that any small appliances, like toasters, crock pots, blenders, any small appliance is unplugged if you can. I know a lot of microwaves have clocks. But you need to unplug them if you can. Anything that is plugged in is a potential ignition source, Jones said.
Jones said people have a tendency to use extension cords this time of year to plug in lights around the house for Christmas decorations.
Extension cords should not be overloaded. Make sure they are not damaged. If you plug a lot of stuff into them, they need to be able to carry the amps. Extension cords are not a bad thing, by any means, but you need to make sure they are heavy enough to carry the load. When you plug too many things into an extension cord, you run the risk of over loading the circuit.
He said overloading outlets and circuits are a big problem this time of year.
We have so much more electronic equipment these days, and this time of year when you add holiday decorations to it, it just adds to the problem.
Mount Airy Fire Chief Chip Osborne said the two main concerns at this time of year is making sure that Christmas trees are watered and that care is taken with candles.
Make sure they are watered. That is a big issue is that people dont water their trees enough. Another thing to look out for is keeping the proper distances with flammables. Watch candles around children. If they are on a tablecloth, they can they pull the candles down, Osborne said.
Osborne also advised that residents keep an up-to-date fire extinguisher in their homes.
Another key to Christmastime safety is to plug in lights before they are hung on a tree.
It is important to physically check the wiring itself to make sure there are no exposed wires. Keep your tree watered daily, and never leave anything unattended, Osborne said.
Osborne said smoke detectors can never be checked too often.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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