BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – People seem to be better about taking safety precautions with Christmas trees and candles than they used to be, and artificial trees with lights attached has helped even more.
But holiday fires related to decorations still happen.
“Candles and trees are still the two biggest causes of fires around the holiday season,” said South Davis Fire Agency Deputy Chief Dane Stone.
Such technologies as wickless and LED candles have changed what passes for candles in today’s world.
“Ten years ago or so, candles were really big and we had a lot of fires.” Stone said. “People would light a candle, forget about it and leave home.”
People still use candles to a lesser degree and caution is still called for.
In cases in which a real candle is used, Stone warns residents not to leave it unattended.
“Also, place it at least 12 inches away from anything flammable like draperies and upholstery,” he said.
“Place candles in a good, sturdy holder and put them where pets can’t get to them.”
“Trees can still be an issue,” Stone said. That’s especialy since many families are putting them up shortly after Thanksgiving.
When purchasing a tree, make sure it’s fresh, place it in a tree stand and water it everyday, Stone said.
“You’ll notice it (the tree) will suck it dry completely on the first day,” he said. “After two or three weeks the water consumption will decrease, but the first three or four days, keep it watered well.”
When it comes to those tree lights. lights placed on the house or as yard decorations, Stone advises consumers to look for a UL tag or a similar tag from some other testing laboratory, certifying the string is safe.
And, when using lights that have been used for several years, make sure there are no fraying or cuts to the cord.
A bigger concern for firefighters in winter months is carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Install a CO detector on every level of your house,” Stone said. “And, like smoke detectors change the batteries on a regular schedule.”
Carbon monoxide leaks are caused in gas appliances when the combustion doesn’t completely burn.
“If you smell gas, or if your CO alarm goes off, evacuate the house,” Stone said. “Don’t air the home out and don’t try to keep warm by running the car in the garage,” Stone warns.
Instead, call 911. They will call Questar Gas, which can locate the source of the leak, whether it be the furnace, a gas clothes dryer or oven, Stone said.
The fire agency has a variety of free pamphlets available on home safety and Christmas decorations and on carbon monoxide. They are available at station 81, 255 S. 100 West, Bountiful.