Time to decorate! Henrico Fire official shares pro-safety tips ahead of the holiday season

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Lights, Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands can brighten up your home for the holidays. But if not used properly, decorations can pose serious safety hazards or even start a fire.

Henrico Fire Chief Doug Reynolds says there’s a safe way to decorate your home and get into the holiday spirit. He says there are a few tips everyone should keep in mind.

When it comes to decorating your home for the holidays this year, Chief Reynolds says it may be a new year, but you should start by checking your old decorations.

“Look at those lights first,” Reynolds said. “When you take that string out, plug them in and see if they work. If half don’t work, throw them away. Look for damaged wires, broken bulbs. That’s a good place to start.”

Safety precautions may even apply to the type of tree you have.

“In general, these artificial trees are quite safe,” Reynolds said. “If you decide to go for a real tree, be careful what you choose. So check those pine needles. If you have a handful, it may not be the freshest tree. If all the needles fall off, don’t pick it.”

How about lighting up your Christmas decor? Reynolds says those extension cords you use to spruce up your decorations can also be dangerous if you don’t use them correctly. A dangerous technique he often sees is called “daisy chaining.” That’s when someone joins several low-quality extension cords together, leaving a trail of mixed-voltage cords that can be really risky and even a fire hazard.

“You have these cheap cords and you put three of them together and they just can’t handle the heat that a thicker cord could take,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds says the golden rule for safety this holiday season is to turn off or blow out fire hazards before you leave, and have fire protection.

“When you get ready for bed or when you leave that house, blow out the candles and unplug, and that will make things a lot better for you,” Reynolds said. “The gold standard is without a doubt a working fire alarm in the home.”

Chief Reynolds says a good tip to keep in mind this holiday season is that if you call the non-emergency number to one of Richmond’s fire departments, they’ll give you a smoke alarm and install it for you before the holidays.

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