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Good Question: Can all those holiday decorations be dangerous to my home?


The US Fire Administration says one third of all house fires happen in the winter.

Couple that statistic with the fact that this time of year the halls are decked and many people are in the holiday spirit with lights, trees and wreaths and you could have a problem.

Good Question: Can all those holiday decorations be dangerous to my home?

The lights, the trees, the decorations, it can be a beautiful time of year, but also dangerous.

"People are using more energy than they're used to, and intrinsically you have more things around that could catch fire," said Brett Brenner, the President of the Electrical Safety Foundation.

Christmas tree fires cause more than $16 million worth of property damage each year, holiday lights account for nearly $9 million dollars in damage.

"Its very important you're making sure those devices are safe in your home," said Brenner.

To see first hand what happens when decorations turn disastrous, the folks at the State Farm Research Lab in Chicago offered some perspective.

On a Christmas tree a string of lights with a frayed wire, after being plugged in the wire starts to smoke, and within seconds the tree is totally on fire.

"We're in a controlled laboratory setting with 30 to 50 ft ceilings, you can imagine what would happen in a home with 8ft ceilings," said Brenner.

Experts from the Electrical Safety Foundation International say counterfeit lights and extension cords can also be a huge problem during the holidays.

"Many times they're using less expensive materials which actually causes the fire itself. The wires inside the devices will not support the load, it really creates a dangerous situation," said Brenner.

To keep safe and avoid holiday fires, experts say never overload electrical outlets, inspect decorations for loose wires, buy lights and cords from trusted retailers and always unplug decorations before leaving your home or going to bed.

Another safety hazard, live trees.

If buying one, look for one that has fresh, green needles, dry trees can of course catch fire more quickly.


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