Only You Can Prevent Fires During Holidays

December 10, 1990

Maryland State Fire Marshal Rocco J. Gabriele is urging county residents not to "make an ash of themselves this holiday season."

The state fire marshal, in conjunction with local fire prevention bureaus, is urging residents to practice fire safety during the holiday season.

"Each holiday season, families as well as homes are often destroyed by fire. Improper use of decorations, faulty light wiring, and carelessness can cause these tragic deaths and destruction," Gabriele said.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal has recommendations to help residents celebrate the holiday season. For example, when selecting a Christmas tree, look for one that is not shedding needles -- a clue that the tree is dry and could present a fire danger.

Also, Christmas trees should be kept indoors only for a few weeks, as the trees will dry out rapidly due to the heat and low humidity of a home.

If possible, trees should not be placed near furnace air vents, electric baseboard heaters or any other heat source.

When using holiday lights and decorations, use only Underwriters Laboratory (U.L.)- or Factory Mutual (F.M.)-labeled lighting on trees or in homes. Also, lights and extension cords should be examined for cracks or deteriorating conditions before being used. If a home is going to be unoccupied for any length of time, the decorative lights on the trees and throughout the home should be turned off.

The fire marshal also recommends that only decorations that are labeled or otherwise certified as being "flame resistant" be used. Commercially available fire retardant treatment is not appropriate or effective for Christmas trees or other decorations.

Finally, as for commercial and institutional facilities, the Office of the State Fire Marshal will not allow "live" or "fresh cut" trees in these facilities. Only trees in a "balled" condition with roots protected by an earthened ball or artificial trees will be permitted in these buildings.

Information: 764-4324, 679-6437 or (800) 535-3124.

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