Everything is beautiful this time of year because, frankly, you make it that way. But your favorite Lakewood Patch editor and the Lakewood Fire Department want to make sure your decorations aren't going to burn your old house down.
We checked in with Fire Chief Scott Gilman and Fire Marshal Tim Dunphy for some decorating safety tips this holiday season.
“The Lakewood Fire Department would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and safe and happy holidays,” said Dunphy.
Here's some solid advice:
• Gilman said that the “number one cause of fires during the holidays” is from unattended candles.
“Never leave them unattended or within three feet of any combustible materials,” said Gilman. “And don’t keep them around natural or uncut Christmas decorations.”
Dunphy agreed, noting that there tends to be an increased use of candles during the holidays.
“Candles are a problem at any time if they’re left unattended,” he said, adding that he recommends battery-operated lit holiday candles.
“People have left an unattended candle and they think it’s OK because it’s in a glass jar or on a plate. If it burns funny, it can break the glass jar and catch something on fire.”
• "People tend to overload electrical circuits during the holidays, said Dunphy.
Not a good idea.
“Generally, people should always be aware of the recommended suggestions from the manufacturers. A lot of times people don’t read the fine print. So if it says ‘no more than three strung together, follow the directions.”
• Then, there's the infamous Christmas tree.
“A live Christmas tree isn’t a live Christmas tree — it’s cut,” said Dunphy. “It’s actually a dead tree. But maintain the water level so it stays as fresh as possible.
Dunphy says if you can pull the needles off the tree easily, it's too dry, but even watered trees can catch fire. Check your lights to make sure you aren't using a bad strand or that an extension cord isn't melting your carpet.
But it’s always a good idea, he said, to check with a local nursery — such as Lakewood Garden Center — for advice.
• Fireplaces are another big fire hazards around the holidays.
“Before you decide you decide whether you’re going to use your fireplace, we recommend that you have it inspected to check the integrity of the flue,” Dunphy said.
In Lakewood, there are a lot of fireplaces that people think were designed to be wood-burning, but they were designed to be used for gas appliances.”