HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Winter months are some of the busiest for firefighters, and not just because of the cold temperatures.
"This time of the year, December, January and February, statistically nationwide we have more structure fires than any other point in the year," said Hattiesburg Fire Marshal Stephen Mooney.
In the recent weeks, Hattiesburg firefighters responded to five house fires, with the latest one on Monday being caused by an extension cord.
"Extension cords are a huge source of fire, anytime you use an electrical appliance improperly by putting too much of a load on it or using it improperly," Mooney said. "Sometimes you don't even know that the improper part is just that it has a broke or frayed component to it, so you always want to look at your extension cord, if they're producing heat you can feel, that's a visible sign."
Live Christmas trees are another factor when it comes to house fires and the holidays.
"If you're putting a Christmas tree up, make sure you cut two inches off the bottom of it so it can absorb that water, and daily, check that water and add the water daily," Mooney said. "You want to check the needles on the tree, make sure that they're not dry, crispy or they don't fall off when you touch, you want to make sure that they're young and tender feeling."
And when it comes to tree lights, use the proper kind.
"You want to use the indoor and or the outdoor appropriately: indoor, indoor; outdoor, outdoor," Mooney said. "Also don't plug too many lights together, look at the instructions, make sure you're doing what's properly rated for that cord. If you see that there is any type of signs of heat stress, then you want to replace that or have an electrician check it out."
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
- Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulbs.
- Use clips, not nails to hang lights so the cords don’t get damaged.
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
- Add water to the tree stand, daily.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.