Holiday decoration safety tips

Holiday decoration safety tips
Christmas Tree fire

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - It is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, sparkling Christmas trees and glowing lights, but all that can change in just a few seconds.

"Christmas trees contribute to a lot of fires during this season, about 1,200 across the nation with the Christmas, New Years and Christmas Eve holidays," Hattiesburg Fire Marshal Johnny Jackson said.

If you are shopping for the perfect tree, whether it is a department store or a tree farm, remember these tips.

"When you are first picking your tree, you want to make sure that it is UL listed, and make sure the tree is flame retardant," Jackson said. "If you are using a real tree, you want to make sure that you have a fresh tree and make sure that you keep it watered to keep it from drying out."

For those of you who have a real tree, it can take five to eight seconds for it to go up in flames.

"You want to check your cords for any flaws, you want to check for any broken bulbs, if you have to change a bulb, make sure that you unplug the tree first before making that repair," Jackson said.

Jackson said make sure you use the proper extension cords for holiday decorations.

"Most of the time you see people using a cheap extension cord for a job that it cannot handle, don't do that, pay a little extra and get a proper cord," Jackson said. "If you are using outdoor lights, make sure they are labeled outdoors; never use in-door lights or cords for outdoor uses."

Jackson also said, be sure that you never overload a cord or outlet with a large amount of lights, and when you are going to bed for the night, unplug them.

"Another thing, be sure to keep any space heater and heat source at least three feet away from your Christmas tree, all it can take is that element to heat up a dry tree and it can ignite and before you know it your house is engulfed in flames," Jackson said.

Be sure to have a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher nearby, especially around the holidays.

"We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season, last thing we want to do is be called to a house fire especially because of Christmas tree," Jackson said. "We just urge everyone to be extra careful and mindful of all the decorations and lights."