Merry and bright: how to have a safe, fire-free holiday season while using Christmas lights

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 03: A man ties a tree he cut down onto the roof of his car to transport it home at Triple A Christmas Tree Farm in Luddenham on December 3, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. Visitors can select and cut their own Christmas tree to take home. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Christmas lights and candles are holiday season essentials for many, and although they may be nice to look at, they can pose serious safety risks that can make the holidays far from jolly.

Faulty lights and open flames can ignite dry Christmas trees, and the fire can spread throughout your home, making it one of the more than 200 structure fires fire departments respond to each year around the holidays, according to the Baton Rouge Fire Department.

Tree fires are rare but serious when they do occur, and they can claim more than just your house. One of every 31 reported Christmas tree fires results in a death, more than four times the average number of deaths that result from regular house fires, the Baton Rouge Fire Department wrote.

Baton Rouge firefighters recommended keeping trees away from heat sources and exits and watering the trees daily to prevent the hazards brought about by dryness. Using non-flammable decorations and LED lights can further reduce safety risks.

Firefighters also cautioned against leaving burning candles unattended and linking more than three strands of holiday lights.

“People are busy during the holiday season, and often forget to check for fire hazards,” Fire Chief Ed Smith said. “Simple things like checking holiday lights for excessive wear and turning off Christmas tree lights before going to bed can make a huge difference.”

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