The American Red Cross of Maine wants everyone to stay safe as they deck the halls this holiday season. Decorations like trees, lights and candles increase the risk of home fires during this festive time. In fact, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are the days with the most home fires caused by candles in the United States.


Use battery-operated candles. If you must use candles, never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach from children and pets.
Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together. Don’t use more than three per extension cord.
When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
If buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.
Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that provide good traction.
The Red Cross also advises people to test their smoke alarms and practice their home fire escape plan until everyone in their household can get out in two minutes or less. Visit for more information and free resources, or download the free Red Cross Emergency App (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).


Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds to a disaster in the United States — most often, they are home fires. In Maine, the Red Cross responds to about 300 home fires each year.

The Red Cross works with partners to prevent fire-related deaths and injuries by installing free smoke alarms in homes and helping families create escape plans through its Home Fire Campaign. Since its launch in October 2014, it has saved at least 658 lives across the country. In Maine, the Red Cross and its partners are installing about 4,000 free smoke alarms annually. The lives of at least 11 Mainers have been saved through these efforts.

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