Local Fire Dept. Advises Safety Tips for Holiday Season

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MCALLEN – According to the U.S. Fire Administration, $2.9 billion in property loss occurs from winter home fires every year.

Rio Grande Valley firefighters told CHANNEL 5 NEWS this is the time of year they see the most structure fires, most of the time from holiday decorations.

Joe Alaniz loves the holidays and the festive decorations that come with it. He said the first time he put up home decorations was a learning experience.

"'Cause the first time I put up a whole bunch of them, they burnt out. Cause I learned you can only connect three of them together," he said.

Alaniz learned this lesson before anyone got hurt, but that's not always the case.

Every year decorations such as Christmas trees, decorative lights, and candles cause hundreds of home fires.

"If you do have damaged wires it's just best to replace them," advised Lt. Paulo Herrera with the McAllen Fire Department.

He said Christmas lights can be a huge danger during the holidays.

"Also the use of extension cords. If they don't use the appropriate extension cord, then more than likely it will cause it to overheat and it will catch fire," said Herrera.

He said short circuit fires aren't uncommon this time of year.

“What you want to do is follow the manufacturer's instructions as to how many lights you can put continuously with that one circuit," Herrera explained.

However, it's not just Christmas lights in your home or in your yard that are the problem.

On average, 12 deaths occur annually just from Christmas tree fires.

"If you buy a real tree, of course, it needs to be watered appropriately," said Herrera, "a dry tree will catch fire quicker."

How about those candles from a Menorah?

"You want to keep it away from any combustible materials," he said.

Two of every five home decoration fires are started by candles.

As for Alaniz, he said he'll be more mindful about the decorations he puts up.


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