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State Fire Marshal offers holiday safety tips

The State Fire Marshal’s office would like to remind residents to be fire safe with their holiday decorations this season, especially Christmas trees.

If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, keep the tree well-watered. Improper care and decoration of a live or artificial tree can lead to catastrophic fires.

"It takes only seconds for a tree to ignite and the entire room to become engulfed in flames," said State Fire Marshal Charles Duffy in a media release.

By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can ensure a safe and happy holiday.

Selecting a tree for the holiday: Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

Caring for your tree: Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Keep away from heat sources including fireplaces and heat vents. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.

Disposing of your tree:  Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Maintain your holiday lights:  Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do not overload electrical outlets:  Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.

Use only nonflammable decorations.  All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant.

Artificial Christmas trees:  If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame-retardant.

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