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Arnold AFB Fire and Emergency Services encourages safety while celebrating this season

Pictured is the ornament that members of the Arnold Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services team distributed to residents of the Arnold Village community ahead of the Christmas holiday. Arnold FES is offering this advice, along with other tips, to help members of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex workforce have a fire-safe holiday season. (Courtesy graphic)

Pictured is the ornament that members of the Arnold Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services team distributed to residents of the Arnold Village community ahead of the Christmas holiday. Arnold FES is offering this advice, along with other tips, to help members of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex workforce have a fire-safe holiday season. (Courtesy graphic)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --

Members of the Arnold Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services team visited the Arnold Village community ahead of the Christmas holiday to deliver to the residents ornaments that could help save property and lives.

These “ornaments” were actually cards that could be hung on a Christmas tree or by stockings. The cards contained Christmas tree safety tips aimed at preventing holiday residential fires.

Arnold FES wishes to share this advice with the entire Arnold Engineering Development Complex workforce.

“Obviously, 2020 has been a crazy year, I think for everybody,” said Christian Lyle, Arnold FES fire prevention/communications officer. “We’d just like for the residents and people at AEDC to have a good Christmas season and one that’s fire-safe so that after the first of the year, everybody can come back to work and continue to support the mission.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2014 to 2018, fire departments across the U.S. responded to an average of 160 home fires per year that started with Christmas trees. U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 770 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees.

Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in almost half of home Christmas tree fires.

Forty-two percent of home Christmas tree fires started in the living room. Five percent were chimney or flue fires.

A little more than one-fifth of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. Sixteen percent started in the living room, family room or den.

Slightly more than half of December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to 32 percent from January to November.

 “While the fire department is here for emergency response and to help people out, we definitely do not want our residents or base personnel to have a bad day,” Lyle said. “I think a little bit of prevention on everybody’s part can definitely go a long way.”

While live Christmas trees can enhance the holiday atmosphere, they can pose hazards. While not considered common, Christmas tree fires are more likely to be serious when they occur. Below are tips contained on the cards distributed by Arnold FES, as well as additional guidance, to guard against Christmas tree fires:

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Make sure the Christmas tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents and lights.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory, such as UL. Be aware that some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Do not overload power strips or electrical outlets.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to ascertain the number of light strands to connect. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Before placing the tree in its stand, cut 1 to 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Remove the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Christmas trees are combustible items that become increasingly flammable as they continue to dry out and should not be left in the home, garage or placed outside against the home. More than one-quarter of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January.
  • Properly dispose of Christmas trees. Ask local recycling centers if they accept Christmas trees for disposal.
  • Make sure the home has working smoke alarms. Test these alarms at least once per month.

Arnold FES provided additional tips to help prevent holiday home fires:

  • Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
  • Along with testing smoke alarms, tell holiday guests about your home fire escape plan.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
  • Blow out lit candles when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.

“We don’t want anybody to have a fire or other emergency, but especially not with the season and Christmas and the holidays coming up,” Lyle said. “We’d rather they have good, happy memories.”

For more information, contact Arnold FES at 931-454-5569 or 931-454-5306.