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West Hartford Fire Department Promotes Holiday, Christmas Tree Safety Measures

The West Hartford Fire Department is offering holiday safety tips. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Fire Department has issued several holiday-related public safety measures.

By Ronni Newton

Many of the elements that make holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah so beautiful can also pose a danger, as can the preparation of holiday-related treats.

The West Hartford Fire Department has issued several public safety announcements in order to keep the public safe from fires and other hazards that can arise during this time of year.

Holiday decorations began appearing earlier than ever this year, as members of the community looked to infuse some festive spirit into what has been a difficult year. With the sale of Christmas trees setting records this year – and with trees being decorated earlier than ever – the West Hartford Fire Department has provided the following recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association – for safely selecting, placing, and lighting a tree:

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

“While these precautions are for our residential neighbors, additional special considerations must be taken for public and commercial buildings,” Fire Inspector Marsha McCurdy Adell said in an email. “Please contact the West Hartford Fire Marshal’s office if you need more information on fire safety in your home or place of business.”

In addition to Christmas trees, many residents use lighted and/or animated decorations, as well as candles, as part of their holiday celebrations. Those items, if not utilized properly, can also pose safety hazards.

Some safety tips include:

  • Keep all candles away from drapery and loose material and out of reach of children and pets.
  • Do not overload outlets. Use surge protectors made by reputable manufacturers to reduce electrical fire risk.
  • Some lights are for indoor or outdoor use, not both. Check the packaging to determine where they belong.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so cords don’t get damaged.
  • Always turn off lights on trees and bushes before leaving your home or going to bed.

Extra cooking and baking are also associated with celebration of the holidays, and the West Hartford Fire Department also has some important reminders to be safer during the holiday season, and year round:

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Don’t put it on your stove if you don’t want to cook it! Keep oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, and towels away from your stovetop.

“We always advise that you test your smoke alarms throughout the year because having early detection of smoke reduces the chance of a fire,” McCurdy Adell said. “If you do have a fire anywhere in your home, call 9-1-1 immediately. The West Hartford Fire Department will respond with the tools and the expertise to extinguish the fire quickly,” she said.

“Thank you for joining us in our effort to keep the community safety through fire prevention. Enjoy the holiday season.”

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