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WVU expert shares holiday home fire safety tips

A photograph showing a lit candle with Christmas lights in the background.

A WVU Extension fire safety expert offers potentially life-saving reminders to consider for the rest of the holiday season. (WVU Photo)

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A West Virginia University fire safety expert offers reminders to help you and your family enjoy a fire-free holiday season full of joy and festivity and protected from potential fire and safety hazards

Mark Lambert, WVU Extension Fire Service director and assistant professor, is available to discuss how to prevent home fires through the holidays and into the new year. 


“Be sure to turn off all holiday lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house. If you have a fresh cut Christmas tree, be sure to continue watering it regularly and keep it away from heat sources. You’ll also want to move other decorations or holiday items, especially those made of fabric or paper, away from heat sources and fireplaces. If you found damaged lights or electrical cords when decorating, replace those immediately.

“If you’re burning candles, be sure to place candles in stable candleholders and keep them away from flammable materials. Never leave candles unattended, and always extinguish them before going to bed or leaving the house. You might even consider using flameless LED candles as a safer alternative.

“When preparing your holiday meal, stay in the kitchen when cooking, especially if using the stovetop. Keep flammable items, such as dish towels and oven mitts, away from the stove. And use a timer to remind you when food is ready to prevent overcooking and potential fire hazards. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it. Ensure that the extinguisher is up to date and properly charged.

“Ensure smoke alarms are installed on every level of your home, including near sleeping areas. Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries at least once a year. This is a good time of year to review and practice a fire escape plan with your family. Designate a meeting place outside the home, and make sure everyone knows how to call 911 in case of an emergency.

“Some people choose to celebrate the new year with fireworks, which can be incredibly dangerous. If fireworks are legal in your area, follow safety guidelines and keep a safe distance. Never point fireworks at people, animals or structures.” — Mark Lambert, Fire Service Extension director and assistant professor, WVU Extension

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVUToday.



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