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Red Cross: 10 ways to safely decorate your home

The 2019 holiday season is here, and the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region wants everyone to stay safe as they decorate their homes. Decorations like trees, lights and candles increase the risk of home fires during the holidays — with Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day being the top three days for home candle fires in the U.S.


  • Use battery-operated candles. If you must use candles, never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach from children and pets.
  • Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.
  • When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
  • If buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
  • If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  • Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  • If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.
  • Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
  • If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
  • If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.

“We want everyone to enjoy the holiday season with fire safety in mind,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the Red Cross Los Angeles Region. “You can help keep your family safe by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less. Remember to get a kit, make a plan and be informed.”

HOME FIRES ARE THE MOST FREQUENT DISASTER IN THE U.S. Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds to a disaster in the U.S. — most often, home fires. Just in the past five months, Red Cross volunteers responded to 137 home fires in Los Angeles County.

In addition, the Red Cross is working with partners to prevent fire-related deaths and injuries by installing free smoke alarms in high-risk communities and helping families create escape plans through its Home Fire Campaign — which has saved at least 658 lives across the country since launching in October 2014. Since then, volunteers and local partners have installed more than 33,800 free smoke alarms in Los Angeles making thousands of homes safer from the threat of home fires.

Free preparedness classes are available online and by request across Southern California as part of PrepareSoCal, an American Red Cross campaign designed to address the needs of individuals and families to prepare for disasters by providing tips, tools, and training, nd to promote community resiliency with a focus on Southern California’s most vulnerable communities. More information on this campaign and available resources can be found at preparesocal.org.

This article was released by the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.