‘Keep the Wreath Red’

By on November 27, 2013

The Elburn and Countryside and Sugar Grove fire protection districts recently installed wreaths, which are illuminated with red bulbs.

Should a fire occur during the holiday season, in which holiday decorations are determined to be involved, one of the red bulbs will be changed to a white bulb. This will serve as a reminder to all of us of the safety precautions that should be taken during this holiday season.

We urge the residents of our communities to take time to “Keep the Wreath Red,” and eliminate unwanted fires by providing a fire safe environment at home and work.
Here are some precautions and safety suggestions:

• Fireplaces – Your fireplace is a source of warmth and heat. Before starting your fire, be sure to remove all paper and wood decorations from the immediate area. Make sure that the flue is open. Use a grate to burn materials in the fireplace. Avoid prolonged over-firing. This may ignite the structure through overheated hearth or fireplace walls where the mortar has become dried and dropped out because of excessive heat. Never use flammable liquids to light the fire, always keep the fire box area clean of ashes and embers and make sure they are completely cooled before taking the ashes or embers into a storage area. Avoid burning garbage, dried decorations, wrapping paper, etc., in fireplaces, as these burn with a very hot flame and may ignite accumulated creosote or cause damage to the chimney itself. It is also extremely important to have your chimney cleaned by a certified chimney sweep.

• Candles – The use of candles during the holiday season has increased drastically over the years. When using candles, always make sure that the candles are not close to combustible materials, such as curtains and other decorations. Make sure all of the candles are snuffed out before retiring or leaving your house.

• Lights – Christmas tree lights and other decorations set the theme for the holidays. Use only lights that have been tested for safety, identified by a label from a listing agency, such as UL. Check the labels on lights to be used outdoors to see that they are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls or other firm support to protect them from wind damage. Never use more than the listed amount of light sets per extension cords. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and do not use more than the number of light sets recommended in one circuit. Always turn off lights when you retire for the evening or leave your home. A short circuit in any electrical equipment could cause a fire. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. All lights present the problem of shock, and a casualty hazard for curious kids.

• Paper: The opening of holiday presents is always special during this time of year. Take special precautions when disposing of the wrappings. Always dispose of wrappings immediately after opening. Place trash in a metal container. Don’t burn wrappings in the fireplace. They may ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.

• Trees – Artificial trees (plastic) should bear a listing label. Some unlabeled plastic trees burn with extreme vigor. Do not rely on chemical coatings or sprays to make your live evergreen flame resistant.

Follow these safety rules when shopping for a natural tree:

• A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. To check for freshness, remember to check for color and scent. Feel the needles; they shouldn’t come off in your hand. A fresh tree is deep green in color and has a strong scent of pine.

• The trunk butt of a fresh tree should be sticky with sap. After you get the tree home, cut a half-inch off the trunk and keep plenty of water in the stand.

• Place your Christmas tree in a location away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Be sure that it is out of the traffic pattern and primary evacuation route in case of an emergency.

For any questions on fire safety, contact the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District at (630) 365-6855, or Sugar Grove Fire Protection District at (630) 466-4513.

Brad Reese
Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District