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Officials Offer Holiday Decoration Fire Safety Tips

VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - From dried-out Christmas trees to top-heavy Chanukah menorahs, fire experts say 'tis the season to be cautious.

Even if your tree is up and your decorations are in place, it's not too late for a seasonal safety check.

With Chanukah starting, tipsy menorahs are a fire hazard.

"You have children, dogs, cats, pets. They like to knock things over," said Chief Luci Labriola of Westchester Emergency Services.

Menorahs with a wide base are safer - just make sure the candles are held securely.

MoreHow Long Is It Safe To Keep Your Christmas Tree Up? Nassau County Fire Safety Officials Have The Answer

Americans are buying more fresh Christmas trees this holiday season and putting them up earlier. Chief Labriola says don't let it dry out.

"You're going to want to water it. Water it every day to keep it healthy and absorbent," Labriola said.

Cut several inches off the bottom to help with absorption. A demonstration shows that it's not easy to fully ignite a properly maintained fresh tree.

"This tree is very healthy and even putting a blow torch to it, it's not going to burn on its own freely," Labriola said.

Don't use strands of lights with exposed wires and broken bulbs, or extension cords that show wear or damage. Chief Labriola recommends you always look for the UL seal of approval. Overstuffing power strips will put you on the fire safety naughty list.

Every home should have a small extinguisher. In case of emergency, remember the "PASS" method:

  • Pull the pin
  • Aim the nozzle
  • Squeeze the handle
  • Sweep across the fire

"If you use one whole extinguisher and the fire doesn't go out, exit the home immediately. Get everybody out of the house and call 911," Labriola said.

Finally, parents of little ones need to remember that smaller decorations are a choking hazard, so keep them out of reach, and carefully clean up ornament hooks and the like.


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