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Avoid a fire in your home over the holidays; follow these Red Cross decorating safety steps

Red Cross Volunteers Assisted 213 People Affected by Home Fires in the Past Week

The holidays are a wonderful time to get everyone together. Unfortunately, they can also mean a greater risk of a fire in someone’s home. This holiday season, the Red Cross encourages everyone to follow simple steps to prevent home fires from holiday decorations.

“December is the peak time for home fires involving candles and holiday decorations,” said Adam Runkle, Regional Disaster Officer for the Illinois Red Cross “Help protect your family by using battery-operated candles and practicing your two-minute escape plan with everyone in your household.”

HOLIDAY DECORATING SAFETY TIPS Follow these safety tips and visit for more information. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching “American Red Cross” in app stores.

  • If you must use candles, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach of pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Check all holiday light cords to ensure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.
  • Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
  • If buying an artificial tree, look for a fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.
  • If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered. To test if the tree is fresh, bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  • Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings or other decorations on the mantel.

Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area.Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year. If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact your local Red Cross for help.

HOME FIRE RESPONSE Over the past week, local Red Cross volunteers responded to help 213 people, including 58 children, in Chicago, Cicero, West Chicago, Park Forest, Naperville, McHenry, and Midlothian affected by 21 home fires, which account for most of the more than 60,000 disasters that the Red Cross responds to annually across the country. Red Cross volunteers provided items to meet immediate needs after a fire and additional support in the form of shelter, health and mental health services and one-on-one support.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVE LIVES Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, working with community partners, has saved at least 1,994 lives by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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