WILKES-BARRE — The Pennsylvania Insurance Department and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner this week are highlighting the common dangers associated with holiday décor, ranging from dehydrated Christmas trees to unattended candles, to decorative outside lighting.
“This time of year, we are all eager to spend time with friends and family in front of warm fires, decorating trees and lighting candles,” said Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman. “However, it is important for Pennsylvanians to remember the steps they can take to keep themselves, their families and property safe.”
Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months.
According to the National Fire Protection Association:
• More than one-third of home decoration fires in December are started by candles.
• Christmas is the peak day for candle fires.
• More than one in every five Christmas tree fires were caused by a heat source too close to the tree.
“Holiday lights and candles are a beloved part of the season, but they are an exceptionally common source of ignition for house fires,” said Acting State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook. “Modern electric candles look realistic and greatly increase safety. Real candles should only be used when and where they can be monitored.”
Cook offered several suggestions for keeping homes safe this winter holiday season:
• Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
• Keep all holiday greenery, including trees, well-watered.
• Never leave burning candles or cooking appliances unattended.
• Always keep children and pets away from open flames and hot surfaces.
• Replace light strands that have worn or broken wires or loose bulb connections, avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many cords, and do not run extension cords beneath rugs and carpet.
• Be sure to turn off holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Homeowners should be sure to place Christmas trees at least three feet away from a heat source, like a candle, radiator, or fireplace.
“Christmas tree fires often start very quickly, and they can fill a room with toxic smoke in under 30 seconds,” Cook added. “It is crucial for Pennsylvanians to take necessary precautions throughout the holidays and beyond.”
The National Fire Protection Association reports that Christmas trees contributed to an annual average of two civilian fire deaths, 10 civilian fire injuries and $10 million in direct property damage during a four-year span.
It is also important to note that if you rent, your belongings will not be covered unless you have a renters insurance policy. Your landlord’s insurance will likely cover the building, but not the contents you own, so if you rent, make sure you have renters’ insurance.
DEP: Winterization increases
energy efficiency, saves money
With colder winter weather on the way, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) offered tips today for Pennsylvanians to save money on utility bills by winterizing their homes.
Home winterization can keep homes warmer while using less energy and costing less money.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the …….