Fire chief urges residents to “Keep the Wreath Red”

The Mt. Morris Fire Department has strarted its annual Keep the Wreath Red campaign. Pictured here, left to right, are: Bill Howey, Rick Hough, andCapt. Mark Lewis.

Did you know an average of over 1,000 home fires a year started when Christmas trees or holiday decorations ignited?

These fires caused an estimated annual average of 25 civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $30 million in direct property damage.

Again this holiday season the Mt. Morris Fire Protection District will be participating in the statewide safety program “Keep the Wreath Red”. The program is very simple, a wreath has been placed on the front of the Mt. Morris Firehouse. The wreath is covered in red bulbs. If a fire occurs during the holiday season caused by holiday decorations, a bulb will be changed to white.

So far, Mt. Morris hasn’t had to change a bulb to white since this program was started in 2004. If you follow some of the fire safety tips listed below the wreath will be kept red all season!

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

Use caution with holiday decorations and whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.

Natural Christmas trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times. Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator, or heat vent.

Decorate with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them. Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level.

Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood, or wrapping paper in a home fireplace or woodstove.

Purchase only lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.

Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. Do not overload extension cords, instead use a rated power strip and do not run an electrical cord under a rug

Check your strands of lights to determine the number of strands that may be connected. Connect no more than three strands of push-in type bulbs together. A maximum of 50 total bulbs of the larger screw-in type bulbs.

Always unplug lights before replacing light bulbs or fuses.

Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation (i.e., using clips, not nails).

Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.

Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.

Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials and never leave candles unattended. 41% of holiday fires are started by a candle. Most importantly do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees in any way.

Last but certainly not least, Test your smoke alarms, have one on each floor of your home and have a fire escape plan and practice it.