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Press Contact: Dory Ehrlich, Associate Analyst, (510) 981-5506

Tips from the Berkeley Fire Department

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, November 30, 2005) - Every year, fires during the holiday season injure 2,600 people and cause over $930 million in damage. These tips, suggested by the United States Fire Administration, will help keep you fire-safe.

Holiday Lights and Decorations

Inspect your holiday lights for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
Don’t link more than three light strands. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Periodically check the wires to be sure they are cool.
Never leave holiday lights on unattended.
Use only nonflammable or flame-retardant decorations.
Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace.
Holiday Trees
Choose a fresh tree: Needles should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. The trunk should be sticky. If you bounce the trunk on the ground and many needles fall off, the tree has probably dried out and is a fire hazard. 
Care for your tree: Keep your tree away from heat, including a fireplace or heating vent. Don’t leave your live tree up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water.
Dispose of your tree: Never put branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The City of Berkeley will pick up Christmas trees on regular plant debris removal days during January.
If you use an artificial tree, make sure it’s flame retardant.
Avoid lighting candles. If you light them, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
Never put lit candles on a tree.


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