Red Cross shares tips for safe holiday decorating

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HARLINGEN — As decorations continue to be placed around the house in celebration of the holidays, a disaster relief organization is reminding the public to decorate their homes safely.

The American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region is urging households to stay safe during the holidays by following decorating safety tips that will help prevent fires and injuries.

A press release from the American Red Cross states that December is the peak month for candle fires and recommends households use flameless candles.

According to a 2020 national American Red Cross survey, the risk of candle fires is so common that nearly one-third of people have left the room or fallen asleep while burning candles.

“If you must use candles, never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn and place them out of reach from children and pets,” the press release states.

The press release recommends people use artificial trees that are labeled fire-resistant.

People are advised to keep the trees away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat, as well as to never use electric lights on metallic trees.

Those that purchase live trees are advised to keep them fresh and watered.

All holiday light cords should be checked to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken.

They should also be turned off before going to bed or leaving the house.

Additionally, the organization advises households not to string too many strands of lights together with no more than three per extension cord.

Labels of older decorations should be checked. For example, some older tinsel is lead-based. Those that use angel hair should wear gloves to avoid irritation.

Fireplaces should not be lit if stockings are being hung on the mantel. The organization also advises people to avoid breathing in artificial snow used for decorating.

When using hooks or nails for outside decorations, make sure they are insulated to avoid electrocution or fire hazard. The organization also advises decorators to have stable placement when using a ladder and to wear shoes that allow for good traction.

“Test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late,” the press release states.

For more information about fire prevention and home fire escape plans, visit www.redcross.org/fire.