Christmas Tree and Holiday Fire Safety

Every year, over 32 million homes are decorated with live Christmas trees. Houses are decked out with candles and lights, as everyone gets in the holiday spirit.

Unfortunately, many fires are started as result of neglect, and poor choices.

Dothan Assistant Fire Marshal Charles Daum says, "The things I've seen, like a candle, ya know, leaving a candle burning in the window; that's happened a number of times in this city where people left the candle in the window and basically, burned down to the sill. Then, [it] starts a fire, gets to the drapes and goes from there."

It is also important to make sure all electrical decorations are in proper working order. Cracked sockets, frayed, bare or loose wires can cause electric shock or start fires.

If you are using outdoor lights, make sure they have been certified for outdoor use.

Dothan Fire Marshal Danny Appling said, "Be careful with the lighting; try to use bulbs that don't generate heat. Make sure the cords are in good shape, don't lave the trees plugged up when you leave the home, and try not to leave them plugged up when you go to sleep at night."

When it comes to live Christmas trees, check for freshness. Needles on a fresh tree are bright green and hard to pull from branches.

Make sure your tree has an adequate water supply at all times.

If you have an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled "fire resistant", and placed at a safe distance from fireplaces and radiators.

With the colder temperatures radiator and fireplace safety is also important.

Appling concluded, "Heaters, as the cold season approaches, fireplaces are being used, be sure you use a screen to protect embers from falling out."

And, above all this season, and all year, be sure your smoke detectors are working properly.

For more holiday safety tips, you can log on to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website at