Practicing a few holiday decorating safety tips can go a long way towards keeping the “joy” in this joyous season. District chief Scott Douglas of the Oklahoma City Fire Department shares some simple but effective ways to keep your family safe and sound as you enjoy holiday decorating, but stresses that the No. 1 rule to follow is to have working smoke alarms.


During the season, you’ll likely see various houses with dazzling lights on both the inside and outside of the home – but there is a proper way to install and take care of them.

“It is best to keep holiday decorations or other flammable items away from any object that would emit heat,” says Douglas. “LED lighting is a better option than traditional lighting because LEDs produce lighting without emitting heat.”

Douglas suggests replacing any strings of lights that have worn, broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to safely connect to one another.

“Use appropriate clips for outdoor Christmas lights,” he continues. “Avoid using nails or staples to attach lights to the home.”


Holiday-scented candles add a merry flair. But before you find the matches, Douglas recommends to: 

• Avoid burning candles in bedrooms or other areas where people may fall asleep;
• Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed;
• Ensure candles are at least a foot away from anything that can burn;
• Use sturdy candle holders and place candles on a steady surface away from clutter;
• Light candles carefully, keeping hair and loose clothing away from the flame.

Tree Maintenance 

Perhaps the most fun holiday tradition is choosing a tree from a local farm and getting it set up in your home. You’ll need to be discerning as you make your selection, and later when you park the tree in your living room. 

“Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched,” says Douglas. “Before placing the tree in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk. The reason for doing this is to allow the tree to accept water easier. Add water to the tree daily. Make sure the tree does not block an exit and that it is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, candles or even lights.”

And while keeping your tree alight during the waking hours is common, Douglas recommends to “always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed. Dried trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, and should not be placed outside against the home.”

Kitchen Safety

In this season, you’ll likely be spending more time preparing holiday meals. Douglas reminds to be vigilant in the kitchen.

“In Oklahoma City, there are numerous reasons why structure fires happen, but unattended cooking is among the leading causes for these incidents,” he says. “We always remind people to ‘keep an eye on what you fry’. In other words, stay in the kitchen and keep a close eye on your cooking until you are completely finished and the heat is turned off.”

By remaining sharp-eyed this holiday season, you open the door to even more festivity and fun. 

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