Beckley firefighter shares tips on how to avoid decoration-related fires this Christmas

Christmas tree decorations
Christmas tree decorations(WVVA)
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 6:48 PM EST
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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - Christmas decorations can be beautiful, but Lieutenant Chris Lanna with the Beckley Fire Department says they can also be dangerous if they’re not handled properly.

“During the holiday season, those types of fires do increase,” Lanna explained. “One of the most common ones that I’ve seen is improper electrical usage. Say you’re putting a big string of lights into a very small extension cord. A good rule of thumb, for example, is always use a cord that’s larger than the one being plugged into.”

As for lights, Lanna says you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This includes keeping inside lights inside and outside lights outside. He also says fresh trees should be well-watered and kept away from heat sources. Meanwhile, artificial trees should be inspected for good light connections, meaning there should be no fraying or visible wires.

Lanna also encourages families to routinely check the batteries in their smoke detectors and have a fire extinguisher handy at all times.

“Fires can happen anywhere, anytime. No matter how careful you are sometimes accidents just do happen. It’s best to be prepared...just being aware of what’s going on around you. If the fire is growing too large, quickly exit immediately. Call for help and let the fire department handle it.”

Exit Drills In The House, known to firefighters as EDITH- are a great way to ensure your family knows what to do if disaster strikes. Lanna says each family should have two fire exits marked. If one is on a second or third story, he suggests installing a fire ladder.

“Practice those drills with your family. Make sure everybody knows your meeting place once you get outside so that if someone goes out the front door and somebody goes out the back door- that way, everybody’s at the same meeting place, and you know everyone is safe.”

Finally, Lanna says the easiest way to stay safe is to make smart choices when it comes to those seasonal decorations.

“If you’re not in the residence able to see what’s going on- keep track of what’s going on, or if you are asleep, for example, it’s the best practice to turn off those holiday decorations.”

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