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Decking the Halls, Trees and Homes with Fire Safety in Mind

By Rhonda Miller | Published 12 Dec 2011 10:41pm | comments
Frank Ford is putting up lights on his Biloxi home. Ford has developed a lot of safety routines for holiday decorations.

The bright lights of the holidays bring cheer, but they can also cause fires. MPB’s Rhonda Miller has safety tips from the pros and from those who just enjoy decorating.

"What I do is, I check each strand every single year. As you can see, I’m checking them for broken bulbs."  That’s Frank Ford, kneeling down in his Biloxi driveway with strings of icicle lights stretched out. He’s putting up about 1,000 lights this year. Ford gets up and walks to the back of his open garage to do a safety check.

"Every house has a breaker box. We want to check, we want to make sure, we want to feel if there’s any hot spots. I always check my hands, I put them right on the fuses see if anything’s hot. Nothing’s hot, everything’s going good and I’ve got most all my lights plugged in," says Ford.

In 30 years of decorating for the holidays, Ford has developed an extensive safety routine.  

"There’s no sense in going on to a standard house’s electric," Ford says. "What I’ve done is, it has its own line. It’s just for the outside lights."

 Even though holiday lights are made much safer than they used to be, D’Iberville Fire Chief Gerald Smith says it’s still important to be careful with decorations inside the house.

"You want to watch where you’re running your cords. You don’t want to run your cords in a high traffic area, where they’re stepped on and damaged in any kind of way. You want to run them, keep them out of doorways," says Smith. "It’s better not to use the adapters, just plug them straight into the socket so you’re guaranteed not to overload it."

Before the decorations, holiday safety begins with the tree. At Santa’s Treeland in D’Iberville, Jackie Cain gets fresh trees every week. She says they look better, and they’re safer. Cain says customers should check for freshness.

"You just grab a limb, pull it, and you should have nothin’, you gotta do it a little hard. (What are you looking for?)  Any needles. If I was to pull like this and the needles started falling off, it’s an old tree," Cain says.

Even with a fresh tree, keeping water in the tree stand is an important safety practice.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year, about 240 house fires start with Christmas trees.



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