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Fire safety reminders for a happy and safe holiday season

Fire safety officials give tips for a safe holiday season
Fire safety officials give tips for a safe holiday season 02:08

FREEHOLD, N.J. - The holiday season is here, but that also means the risk of home fires increases. 

Candles, Christmas trees, and cooking mishaps can quickly turn into emergencies. 

Firefighters at the Monmouth Fire Academy in Freehold showed just how quickly an artificial Christmas tree can catch fire should an accident happen, like a tipped over candle or faulty power strip. Within a minute, a room with no sprinkler system was engulfed in flames. 

"There's so many stories out there about the tragedies that can happen during the holiday. A couple years back, and we had a woman who lost almost her entire family de to a faulty power strip underneath the Christmas tree," John Wisniewski of the New Jersey Fire Safety Commission said. 

Fire officials also showed a how a home with a sprinkler system suffered far less damage and allowed more time to escape. They want to prevent tragedies by reminding people to fireproof their homes. 

"Working smoke detectors in the home, that's the most important... if you're going to use a live tree, make sure to keep it watered," N.J. State Fire Marshal Rich Mikutsky said. "Candles, try to use the battery powered ones... if you have to use a live flame candle, don't put it in a place where it can be knocked over by kids, pets." 

What about deep frying a turkey?

"Oil is between 350 and 400 degrees that you're going to be frying the turkey in. So there's certainly the risk for burns there," N.J. Mikutsky said. "You want to make sure the burner is on a flat, level surface, and make sure the turkey is completely dry. You don't want any moisture or ice that's still in the cavity of the turkey, because you get that violent reaction when the oil, and the water and the ice mix." 

That violent reaction, as shown in the demonstration, can look like a fireball erupting from the turkey frier. 

As for what's under the tree, if you receive gifts powered by lithium-ion batteries this year, like an ebike or scooter, make sure the batteries are certified, and don't overcharge. 

"Try and do it outside if you have a shed with electricity in the backyard," Mikutsky said. 

"How you're going to get out. Have a plan, or an alternative exit. Have a place where everyone can meet outside," Wisniewski said. 

Fire officials said Monday's demo is not just about the holidays, but about keeping your home and family safe year-round. 

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