Deck the halls safely this year

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The holiday season is upon us and many families have already started decorating their homes and searching for that perfect tree. However, the Leander Fire Department urges locals to take precautions before diving headfirst into a box of Christmas lights.

“It comes down to common sense and paying attention,” Leander Fire Department’s Lt. David Rodriguez said. “People need to stay aware of their surroundings while they are caught up in the spirit of things.”

Falling off ladders is an extremely common problem this time of the year.

“A lot of times people are not used to dealing with ladders,” Rodriguez said. “So once or twice a year when they do get up on a ladder they forget to stabilize it.” 

said. “So once or twice a year when they do get up on a ladder they forget to stabilize it.” 

Christmas lights can also cause problems. Rodriguez said where they get stored makes all the difference. 

“Put them in a plastic container or back in their box,” he said. “They should be kept away from the elements and away from where critters can get a hold of them. That is key.”

Lights need to be checked for frays, loose connections and cracked sockets. Any damaged sets should be thrown out to avoid accidental fires. No more than three standard-size sets of lights should be used per extension cord and only one extension cord should be used pet outlet. 

Rodriguez also said taking care of a live tree is more than just cutting it down and sticking it in a stand. 

“You’re dealing with something that needs to be maintained,” he said. ”A fresh-cut tree needs to be immediately put in water because that tree is very dry. Buying one that is as fresh as possible is important.”

A dry tree isn’t just messy, but easily combustible. A six-foot tree absorbs approximately one gallon of water every two days. 

“Check the water every other day,” Rodriguez advised. 

Keeping the tree watered is a good start, but it is crucial to remember to keep the tree away from unexpected heat sources.

“You might put it in front of a fireplace and think that since it’s two or three feet away from the fire it’s safe,” Rodriguez said. “But being that close to the fire makes the tree get hot and dry. It looks beautiful in pictures but it can be dangerous.” 

Candles and heaters are also threats to the tree. 

“It shouldn’t be in front of exit doors either,” Rodriguez added. 

Rodriguez said everyone should have working smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher in their home. He said the fire extinguisher serves two purposes. Either the fire is small enough to be put out without the help of the fire department or the extinguisher can be used if the fire is between the person and their exit.

“Some years we get a handful to a dozen incidents in Leander and some years we have none at all,” Rodriguez said. “It’s devastating because they happen either right before or right after Christmas.” 

Christmas lights can also cause problems. Rodriguez said where they get stored makes all the difference. 

“Put them in a plastic container or back in their box,” he said. “They should be kept away from the elements and away from where critters can get a hold of them. That is key.”

Lights need to be checked for frays, loose connections and cracked sockets. Any damaged sets should be thrown out to avoid accidental fires. No more than three standard-size sets of lights should be used per extension cord and only one extension cord should be used pet outlet. 

Rodriguez also said taking care of a live tree is more than just cutting it down and sticking it in a stand. 

“You’re dealing with something that needs to be maintained,” he said. ”A fresh-cut tree needs to be immediately put in water because that tree is very dry. Buying one that is as fresh as possible is important.”

A dry tree isn’t just messy, but easily combustible. A six-foot tree absorbs approximately one gallon of water every two days. 

“Check the water every other day,” Rodriguez advised. 

Keeping the tree watered is a good start, but it is crucial to remember to keep the tree away from unexpected heat sources.

“You might put it in front of a fireplace and think that since it’s two or three feet away from the fire it’s safe,” Rodriguez said. “But being that close to the fire makes the tree get hot and dry. It looks beautiful in pictures but it can be dangerous.” 

Candles and heaters are also threats to the tree. 

“It shouldn’t be in front of exit doors either,” Rodriguez added. 

Rodriguez said everyone should have working smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher in their home. He said the fire extinguisher serves two purposes. Either the fire is small enough to be put out without the help of the fire department or the extinguisher can be used if the fire is between the person and their exit.

“Some years we get a handful to a dozen incidents in Leander and some years we have none at all,” Rodriguez said. “It’s devastating because they happen either right before or right after Christmas.” 

 

 

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