Fire safety tips for holiday season

PIERRE, S.D. (Press Release) – Lights and other decorations are part of the holiday season, but South Dakota’s Fire Marshal says decorations, especially candles, can create safety hazards and cause fires when not used properly.

Home fires are always a threat during the holidays. Fire Marshal Paul Merriman said the potential for fires is higher than usual because more heating sources are being used.

“With more lights, more candles, more cooking, more fireplaces, and more space heaters being used, the chances of a home fire increase at this time of the year,” he said. “Use holiday lighting safely, never leave burning candles unattended, practice cooking safety and, if you have a real Christmas tree, make sure it is adequately watered to prevent it from becoming too dry.”

No matter what time of year, Merriman said home fire safety must also include smoke alarms. He suggested testing smoke alarms regularly to ensure there are working smoke alarms on each level of the home, in each bedroom, and adjacent to sleeping areas.

Other holiday fire safety tips listed by Merriman include:

Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.

Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.

Keep children and pets away from lit candles.

Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.

Keep children at least three feet away from the stove, oven, hot food and liquids. Steam or splash from vegetables, gravy, or coffee could cause serious burns.

Turn off lights and extinguish candles before leaving the house or going to bed.

The South Dakota Fire Marshal’s Office is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.