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Monday, November 29, 2004
Safe Holidays Make Happy Holidays: RI Red Cross Offers Holiday Safety Tips

Keep your family safe though this year's holiday season by setting up decorations with care and taking some simple steps to prevent fire or accidents. "Each December, 500 deadly home fires happen as a result of Christmas trees catching fire. We can all take some easy steps to keep this from happening," said Daniel Samborn, CEO of the American Red Cross of Rhode Island.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 60% of home fires occur during December, January and February, and about half of these fires are caused by using candles and overloading electrical circuits. On average, RI Red Cross volunteers will respond to a fire every eleven hours this winter. The American Red Cross of RI  recommends the following safety tips to help ensure a happy holiday season for you and your family this year:

  • Keep Christmas trees fresh – Place your tree away from heat sources and exits; water it daily. Make sure your artificial tree is fire-retardant.
  • Use electrical outlets and lights carefully – Check tree lights each year to make sure they are still in good condition. Never overload electrical circuits.
  • Decorate only with flame-retardant or non-combustible materials –Avoid using candles during parties. Check ashtrays, upholstery and trash cans for smoldering cigarette butts after any holiday party.
  • Keep candles away from Christmas trees – Leave plenty of open space around candles and place them so that you can keep an eye on them. Don't leave candles burning unattended and be sure all candles are blown out when you are done with them.
  • Protect your children from fire hazards- Never leave children unattended in a room with lit candles and always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, out of the reach of youngsters.
  • Inspect fireplaces and wood stoves – Have your chimney connections and flues inspected by a professional and cleaned if necessary prior to the start of the heating season. Burn only wood—never burn paper, including discarded gift wrap, or pine boughs. If you plan to hang stockings on your fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
  • Enroll in a First Aid, CPR and AED Course – Although these tips can help prevent an emergency, it is also important to be prepared should an emergency situation arise. To enroll in a first aid, CPR or AED course, contact your local American Red Cross.

The RI Red Cross responds to a fire, on average, every eleven hours and typically spends $1,000 per family of four that it assists. All Red Cross assistance is free, thanks to contributions from individuals and organizations. The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on private donations to provide emergency assistance to Rhode Islanders in crisis.

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