State Fire Marshal stresses safety when decorating for the holidays

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Now that the holidays are here, the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office is reminding people installing holiday decorations can place your home at an increased risk of a fire.

A press release says that according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) more than two of every five home decoration fires take place beacuse of decorations being placed too close to a heat source.

The NFPA also says between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to a yearly average of 780 residential fires that were started by decorations.

It adds over one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles — and that figure exceeds 50% in the month of December.

“Candle fires peak in December followed closely by January,” the release says. “The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Before you head to bed or out for the evening, extinguish all lit candles.”

“The OSFM will once again be hosting the Keep the Wreath Red Campaign at our offices in Springfield and Chicago,” says Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez. “This campaign raises awareness about the importance of fire safety during the holiday season (Dec. 1 through Jan. 2).

The Fire Marshal’s office says the Keep the Wreath Red campaign started in 1954 in Naperville. It says wreaths with red light bulbs will be placed outside of the fire marshal offices in Springfield and at the Thompson Center in Chicago.

The office will replace the red bulbs with white ones when someone dies in a fire in Illinois.

“These white lights are not just bulbs; they represent a person! That person could be your mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, friend or neighbor,” says Perez.

“Unfortunately, last year 15 lives were lost in fire-related incidents during the holiday season in Illinois,” the press release continues. “Following and exercising fire safety measures can reduce your risk of fire or injuries related to fires not only during the holiday season but every day.”

JC Fultz, press officer for the Fire Marshal’s office, says four white bulbs will be added to their wreaths tomorrow, as four people reportedly died in fires in Illinois since Dec. 1.

The Fire Marshal’s office is providing the following safety tips for people decking the halls this holiday season:

  • Be careful with holiday decorations. Make sure decorations are either flame retardant or flame resistant.
  • Keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from decorations or anything that can catch fire.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
  • Extinguish all lit candles before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Check to make sure your lights are rated for indoor or outdoor use or both.
  • Replace any light strands that have worn or broken cords. Make sure to read the recommendation for the number of light strings you can string together.
  • Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
  • If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure to check water levels daily! It’s not unusual for a tree to drink two gallons of water the first day it is in the stand.
  • Keep real Christmas trees away from a heat source. It can dry out the tree quickly.

Also, the release says that you should clean your oven after Thanksgiving before firing it back up again for your next holiday meal.

If you do experience an oven fire, the Fire Marshal’s office says to turn off the oven and keep the door closed until it is cool. Additionally, be sure to clean stovetops because left-over grease can catch fire.

“Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, but Christmas and Christmas Eve follow closely behind,” the release says.

“If you are planning to host family and friends during the holidays, make sure they are aware of your fire escape plan. Show them where all the exits are in your home and make sure they are aware of the meeting spot’s location.

“Make sure you are following all the social distancing protocols issued from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC.”

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