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Red Cross Issues Safety Tips to Prevent Holiday Home Fires

Sometimes people forget to be safe and careful when they’re excited and making memories.

The American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio urges residents to take extra precautions when decorating around the holidays.

“As people string lights and spend time with family and friends this holiday season, we’re urging them to take safety measures and avoid the threat of fire,” said Gary Loboschefski, emergency services manager for the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio Region.

Local Red Cross volunteers respond to a disaster every 19 hours. More than 450 of them occurred in Northwest Ohio last year alone. The vast majority of these responses are due to home fires, especially this time of year when temperatures drop and people are busy celebrating with friends and family.

“Sometimes people forget to be safe and careful when they’re excited and making memories,” Loboschefski added.

The Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can follow to prevent home fires during the holidays:

  • Choose decorations that are flame-resistant/retardant or non-combustible.
  • Test smoke alarms and replace batteries if necessary.
  • If you plan to hang stockings on your fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
  • Keep children, pets, decorations, and combustible materials away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach or in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace light strings with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Be aware that some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Limit the number of connected light strands to three and the total number of bulbs to 50.
  • Choose a fresh Christmas tree and secure it in a sturdy stand. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits, and water it daily.
  • If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
  • People should also download the free American Red Cross First Aid app, which provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to

    People can test their knowledge on how to prevent home fires by taking the Fire Safety Quiz, and can learn more about fire prevention by visiting