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Fire safety keeps holiday season happy

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The holiday season is here, and we're looking forward to special gatherings and celebrations with friends and loved ones.

Many children (and children at heart) will be overflowing with excitement. We are decorating our homes in our own special way to make the holiday a memorable event.

Holiday decorations can be joyful but also dangerous if improperly used, especially for children. Each year many needless injuries and deaths are caused by decorations. A little caution and planning while decorating will help you and your families enjoy a safe holiday season.

Here are several fire-safety guidelines to be observed.

- When purchasing a live Christmas tree, ensure that it is kept moist to prevent a very serious fire hazard. A real tree should not lose green needles when you tap it on the ground. Cut one inch off the trunk to help it absorb water. Leave the tree outside until ready to decorate. The stand should hold at least one gallon of water. A six foot tree will use one gallon of water every two days. Check the water level every day. Clean the tree stand to improve the tree's water intake. Secure the tree with wire to keep it from tipping. Keep the tree away from floor heaters, fireplaces or other heat sources. Use only UL-listed lights, and no more than three strands linked together. Use miniature lights which have cool-burning bulbs. Turn off the Christmas lights when you sleep, or if you leave your home for very long. Never use candles, even on artificial trees. Dispose of the tree properly.

- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for Fire Resistant label. Although this label does not mean the tree will not catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

- Holly and mistletoe can cause serious medical problems or be fatal to small children. Poinsettia leaves can cause a skin rash and an upset stomach if swallowed. Call 911 if your child ingests any of these holiday plants.

- Inspect lights for broken or cracked sockets and frayed wires. Do not overload extension cords or outlets. Use indoor and outdoor lights in their proper locations.

For call the fire and emergency services fire prevention office at 722-3836.
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