Following two deaths in Oregon in the past few weeks due to accidental fires, Oregon Fire Chief Ed Ellis is urging the public to exercise caution during the holidays to prevent further tragedies from occurring.
“Fire safety is something that the public needs to be reminded of constantly,” said Ellis.
Paul Mullen, assistant fire chief, said this season seems to be worse than in previous years.
“It runs in spurts. Unfortunately, we lost a child a few weeks ago because of a fire caused by a burning candle. It makes people a little more tense,” he said.
Among the threats at this time of year are decorative lighting, live Christmas trees, burning candles, and unattended children.
“Everything together is one big problem,” said Mullen.
Recommendations to avoid fire hazards include the following:
• Buy lights that have been tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, which is noted on the label, and use them according to the manufacturer’s instructions;
• Make sure lights used outdoors are for outdoor use. Fasten outdoor lights with hangers, not staples, and plug them into a ground fault interrupter circuit;
• Replace light sets that are worn or cracked and make sure to use the correct wattage replacement bulbs. Limit use of extension cords and never run them under rugs or over sharp edges;
• Do not overload electrical outlets or connect more than three light strands together.
Regarding Christmas trees:
• Make a fresh cut at the base of the trunk and place the tree in a sturdy stand;
• Locate the tree as far away from a heat source as possible and water daily;
• Do not block primary or alternate escape routes with the tree;
• Keep tree stand filled with water and check water level daily;
• When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
When burning candles:
• Never place near the tree or other flammable decorations;
• Decorative candles should be secured to avoid tipping;
• Candles should be extinguished before leaving the house or going to bed;
• Warn them to stay away from matches, candles and decorative lighting;
• Young children should be supervised at all times in rooms where candles are in use.
To contact the Oregon Fire & Rescue Department for information on free smoke detectors and batteries, as well as other fire safety equipment for your home, call 419-698-7021.
Mullen said there are no income restrictions for residents to obtain free smoke detectors, which give ample warning to residents to safely escape a fire.
“The most important thing is to have smoke detectors, and to have them serviceable and working,” he said.