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Holiday Safety Tips...

Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there is an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees plus another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting that occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage.

Here are some tips to keep your family safe this holiday season:

• Before plugging in your holiday lights this season, check for frayed wires, damaged sockets and gaps in the insulation.If you find any of these, be sure to toss the lights.

• After holiday gifts are opened, quickly discard the wrapping paper and packaging in a safe manner. Wrapping paper is very flammable. Never burn gift-wrapping in the fireplace.It can ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.

• Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Make sure everyone knows what to do if they hear them by practicing your family fire escape plan.

• Nothing kindles the holiday spirit like candles, be sure to blow out all of the candles before leaving the house or going to bed.

• Never use indoor lights outside. Remove outdoor lights as soon as the season is over; they are not designed for prolonged exposure to the elements, especially in winter weather.

• Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, candles, radiators, lights or heat vents.

• Keep a fire extinguisher near your tree, just in case.

• Check all light strands before putting them on the tree.If a strand has cracks in the plastic that covers the wiring, do not use it.

• Never connect more than three strands of lights.

• Do not overload electrical outlets.

• Keep your Christmas tree stand full of water.