Friday, December 31, 2010

Blossom Valley Crash Sends One to Hospital

Blossom Valley: On Friday, December 31, 2010, at 2:54 p.m., the Lakeside Fire District received calls about a vehicle that had left the road and was overturned in the 9400 block of Quail Canyon Road. A structural engine, a rescue company, and an ALS ambulance were dispatched to the incident.

Fire Engineer Steve Schleif and Firefighter-Paramedic Jose Corona start a medical assessment on the occupant.
On the arrival of Rescue 3 (Lake Jennings Station), they located a compact car that had sustained major damage in a field between two residences. The sole occupant had managed to self-extricate himself from the wreckage and only had complaints of minor pain. The patient received initial care from the crew of Rescue 3, and was later transferred to Medic 1 (Riverview Fire Station) for transport to Kaiser Hospital.

A total of 8 Lakeside Fire personnel responded to the incident. The accident is being investigated by the CHP.

Submitted By: Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire Protection District

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Driver Walks Away from Dramatic Accident on Via Diego

Via Diego: On Thursday, December 30, 2010, at 9:44 p.m., the Lakeside Fire District received calls of an overturned vehicle in the 12400 block of Via Diego. A structural engine, a rescue company, and ALS ambulance were dispatched to the incident.

Fire Engineer Rich Smith inspects the aftermath of the accident.
On the arrival of Rescue 3 and Medic 3 (Lake Jennings Station), crews discovered a SUV that had cartwheeled after impacting a retaining wall. The vehicle had major front end damage and a partially collapsed roof. On checking the interior, no occupants were located, but crews became concerned when an empty child car seat was discovered. After crews initiated a search, they located the driver who complained of only minor injuries. Not only had the driver been properly restrained, but a driver-side airbag deployment also prevented potentially life threatening injuries. The driver also stated that there was no child in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Crews stood-by until the vehicle could be removed from the area. Currently the accident is under investigation by the CHP.

Submitted By: Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rescue on Olde Highway 80 at Pecan Park Lane

Flinn Springs: On Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at 1:41 p.m., the Lakeside Fire Protection District received a report of a collision between a truck and large sedan at Olde Highway 80 and Pecan Park Lane. A structural engine, a rescue company, and an ALS ambulance were sent on the alarm.

Firefighters gather equipment before the careful removal of the injured parties.
Arriving units discovered a moderate velocity accident that resulted in a "T-Bone" type impact on a large sedan. On evaluation of the occupants, a total of three patients were identified. One occupant showed signs of a significant neck injury, so the decision was made to remove the backdoor of the vehicle so the patient could receive proper handling. In total, two patients were transported to Sharp Memorial Trauma Center for evaluation. A third occupant elected not to be transported by ambulance.
Captain Chuck Palmore and Firefighter Todd Welch start operations to remove the backdoor of the vehicle to facilitate removal of an injured party.
A total of 8 Lakeside personnel responded to the call. CHP is currently investigating the accident.

Submitted By: Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lakeside Firefighters Train for Entrapment Under Vehicles

Lake Jennings Fire Station: One of the most dreaded calls that firefighters respond to are those involving people trapped under vehicles. One might ponder how people get into this situation, but as more and more people conduct maintenance on their vehicles at home we see an increase in these types of incidents.

But these calls can result in some horrific injuries, not to mention a high probability of death. Our passenger vehicles range in weight from 2,500 pounds to a impressive 7,500 pounds in larger SUV's. When this type of weight is placed on the human body it quickly becomes a race against time to get the weight off of the victim.
Firefighter-Paramedic Bryan Peters works with a cribbing stack at a recent training exercise.
Lakeside Firefighters use a system of cribbing and pneumatic bags that are capable of lifting 60,000 pounds. This equipment is part of the inventory of Rescue 3 located at the Lake Jennings Fire Station. Crews regularly work with these tools under various simulations to maintain skills that are necessary for these types of rescues.

But working on vehicles is only part of the situations where these airbags are of beneficial use. Crews can use these tools in structural collapse, industrial rescues, vehicle extrication, right down to getting a child "unstuck" from playground equipment.

Recently these tool were used to assist in the rescue of a driver that was pinned in a water truck that had rolled down a hillside (link).

Fire Engineer Chris Downing monitors progress as crews work to free a simulated victim. If done incorrectly loads can fall on the rescuers.
Before working under your vehicle please observe some basic safety rules when using jacks:
  • Use only jacks that are maintained in good operating condition.

  • Place the jack securely on a dry, level, clean surface at right angles to the load.
  • Position the jack at the jack point recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Shift the vehicle with automatic transmission to park or to low gear, if it has a standard transmission, and apply the parking break.
  • Use chocks in front and back of the wheel that is on the diagonal from the wheel that will be raised (e.g., if jacking up the right, front wheel, use the chocks on the left, rear wheel).
  • Do not overload a jack beyond its capacity. All lifts must be vertical.
  • Do not position yourself where you could be pinned between the operating handle and the wall if the vehicle or jack moves accidentally.
  • If working alone, always arrange to have someone check on you at pre-arranged, regular intervals.
  • Place safety stands under the vehicle to support the vehicle if an employee must work under the vehicle.
  • Ensure that the safety stands are in good condition and positioned properly and that the correct support pins are used in adjustable axle stands.
  • Do not get under a vehicle that is supported by a jack only - always use suitable safety stands. 
Crews work on a simulated off-road incident where operations are more complex. Firefighter-Paramedic Chris Williams, Fire Engineer Chris Downing, and Firefighter-Paramedic Jose Corona observe the effectiveness of the airbags in lifting this vehicle.
Submitted By: Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

Lakeside Fire Crews Search for Downed Aircraft

Eucalyptus Hills: On Monday, December 27th 2010, at 1:32 p.m., the Lakeside Fire District received a call of an aircraft crash in the area of the 10600 block of Oak Creek Drive. The reporting party claimed she saw an aircraft go down in the area with an associated "boom." Three engine companies, a rescue company, an ALS ambulance, and two battalion chiefs were sent on the alarm.

View Lakeside Incidents and Story Map in a larger map

Arriving units could not locate a crash site, so ASTREA (San Diego County Sheriff) was requested to search the area and listen for an ELT signal from the aircraft. During this time, crews received an additional report from a local construction crew that they had seen an aircraft and heard an explosion in the area. Based on that information, E1 (Riverview Station), and E2 (Eucalyptus Hills Station), with Battalion One (Lake Jennings Station) conducted a ground search of the creek beds in the area.

On the arrival of ASTREA, they conducted a search of the area and could not locate a crash site. The control towers at Gillespie Field and Miramar reported no overdue aircarft.

After an extensive search of the area, crews determined that there was no evidence of a plane crash and the search was terminated.

Agencies assisting Lakeside Fire include the Santee Fire Department and the San Diego County Sheriff Department.

Submitted By: Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Agencies Team Up to Rescue Injured Hiker

Lakeside, CA - Lakeside Firefighters along with several other agencies responded to a rural area north of El Monte County Park on Sunday, December 26, 2010, to rescue a hiker who was injured in a fall. Heartland Fire Communications dispatched units from Lakeside's Lake Jennings (fs3) and Riverview (fs1) fire stations at 11:41 a.m. Lakeside Battalion 1 (Weber) established El Monte IC and requested S.D. Sheriff's A.S.T.R.E.A. helicopter to assist units on scene in locating several hikers who were in an inaccessible area north of El Monte Rd.

A.S.T.R.E.A. quickly located the hikers and confirmed one injury. Additionally, San Diego County Copter 12 was requested to perform a hoist rescue.  The injured hiker was airlifted to waiting firefighter/paramedics at El Monte park who treated and transported him to an area hospital. Two other hikers and two dogs were also airlifted to the park.

Agencies assisting on this incident included Lakeside Fire (E1, R3, B1, 4101), Santee Fire (M4), CalFire (B3312, Copter 12), S.D. County Sheriff (A.S.T.R.E.A., Copter 12), and S.D. County Park personnel.

Hikers were in this area.

S.D. County Copter 12 on the ground at El Monte Park.

Sheriff's A.S.T.R.E.A. located the hikers.

Story and photos by: Captain Scott Culkin, Lakeside Fire District

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lakeside Firefighters "Adopt-a-Family"

Lakeside: For the tenth year, the Lakeside Firefighters collected money in support of a local family in need. The firefighters started this program when there appeared to be a need here in the community of Lakeside. The firefighters receive referrals from the school district, and local churches.

Firefighter Shawn McKenna and Fire Enginner Chris Downing load gifts for delivery to the "adopt-a-family".
In November, the Lakeside Firefighters collected money from within their group in support of this worthy cause. This year we were able to provide Christmas decorations, and gifts for nine children. The event is coordinated by Fire Engineer Chris Downing and Firefighter-Paramedic Jose Corona.

Submitted By: Fire Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wal-Mart Recalls Electric Heaters Due to Fire and Burn Hazard

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Name of Product: Flow Pro, Airtech, Aloha Breeze & Comfort Essentials Heaters

Units: About 2.2 million

Importer: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., of Bentonville, Arkansas

Hazard: The heaters can malfunction resulting in overheating, smoking, burning, melting and fire.

Incidents/Injuries: Wal-Mart has received 21 reports of incidents, which included 11 reports of property damage beyond the heater. Injuries were reported in four incidents, three of which required medical attention for minor burns and smoke inhalation. The remaining incidents included smoke irritation, sparking or property damage beyond the heater.

Description: This recall involves Flow Pro, Airtech, Aloha Breeze and Comfort Essentials 1500 watt heaters. The heaters are grey with a metal handle on the top with vents and grey control knobs on the front. The model number is 1013 and can be found on a label on the lower left corner of the back panel of the heater.

Sold Exclusively at: Walmart stores nationwide from December 2001 through October 2009 for about $18.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled heater and return the product to any Walmart store for a full refund.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Wal-Mart toll-free at (800) 925-6278 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting

Sterno Recalls Portable Butane Stoves Due to Fire and Burn Hazards

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Name of Product: Sterno Portable Butane Stoves

Units: About 37,500

Importer: The Sterno Group LLC, of Des Plaines, Ill.

Hazard: The stove's "on-off" valve can fail to close completely when turned to the "off" position, causing butane to leak from the stove. This poses a fire and burn hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Sterno has received one report of a stove failing to completely shut off. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The recalled portable butane stoves have model numbers STO6001 and 50006. The single burner stoves are black and measure about 14 inches wide x 12 inches long x 4 inches high. They use an eight-ounce butane canister as the fuel source. "Sterno" is printed on the front of the stove. The model number and UPC 0-27371-50006-9 or UPC 0-76642-06001-6 is printed on the stove's packaging.

Sold at: Sporting goods stores and other retail stores nationwide, including Puerto Rico, from September 2009 through September 2010, and to restaurants and restaurant supply stores from August 2006 through September 2010 for between $20 and $30.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled portable butane stoves and contact Sterno for instructions to return the units to Sterno for a free replacement stove. Do not return the stoves to the place of purchase.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Sterno toll-free at (877) 478-3766 between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at

Community Warning: Fire Inspection Fraud

Reports of unscrupulous business practices have come to attention of the Lakeside Fire Protection District.  Our Fire Department wants to insure that you are aware of unsolicited inspections for fire protection systems, fire extinguishers and other fire and life safety issues. Businesses in the San Diego County area have been victimized by persons claiming to have been sent by the “Fire Marshal”, “Fire Department”, “property owner” or as a “representative of the landlord” to conduct inspections.

The Lakeside Fire Department does NOT hire private parties to conduct business inspections. Fire Code Compliance Inspections are conducted by Fire Department personnel in uniform, wearing badges and carrying department identification cards. The Fire Department does not send private contractors to your business. If you have any doubts about an inspection or if you are approached by non-fire department personnel who tell you they were sent by the “Fire Marshal” or the “Fire Department” to conduct an inspection, please call the Fire Department immediately at (619) 390-2350 or the San Diego County Sheriff Department at (858) 565-5200 or (619) 956-4000. A description of the persons and the vehicles involved would be helpful and greatly appreciated.

To avoid being victimized by these unscrupulous business practices, remember these “Watch Out” situations:

1.      A service person who identifies themselves as a member of the fire department or says they’ve been referred by the local fire department, owner or landlord to perform a service or inspection.

2.      You are asked to sign a blank invoice – do not sign blank invoices!

3.      The service person arrives unannounced or has not contacted your business to service your fire extinguishers.

4.      The service person uses the portable fire extinguisher Certificate of Registration as a way to service other fire protection systems or equipment.

5.      The service person requests cash for payment.

6.      The service person does not have identification visibly posted on their body.

7.      The service person will not give you an estimate of charges before the work begins or is completed.

8.      The service person wants to inspect your exit lights, doors and exit hardware.

9.      Do not let the service person remove any of your fire extinguishers – they belong to you! Do not let them replace your extinguishers with “loaners”

10. You do not need quarterly fire sprinkler system inspections from an outside firm.

If you have any questions  please do not hesitate to call your Fire Department.


J. Charles Weber
Deputy Fire Marshal/Fire Captain
Fire Prevention Division

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December Board Meeting Marks Big Changes in the Lakeside Fire District

Lakeside Administration Building: The December 14th meeting of the Lakeside Fire Board brought with it some major changes to the District. Before a "standing room only" crowd the District bid farewell to two long time Board members, welcomed two new Board members, and celebrated the career of Fire Engineer Steve Thompson.

The Board room was filled to capacity with members of the community in attendance.

Departing Board Members

Rick Smith

Long time Lakeside resident, and 20 year member of the Lakeside Fire Board, Rick Smith has seen many changes within the Lakeside Fire District. Originally seated as a Board member in December of 1990, Rick Smith has played a vital role in the evolution of the Lakeside Fire District.

Rick Smith
Fire Chief Andy Parr presents Director Smith with a plaque of appreciation for 20 years of dedicated service

Ken Coyle

Ken has had a long relationship with the community of Lakeside. Originally serving the citizens as a Firefighter-Paramedic, Ken continued that tradition of service when he was elected to a Board position in December of 2002. Also a long time Lakeside resident, Ken brought a deep knowledge of the emergency services to his position.
Ken Coyle
Fire Chief Andy Parr present Director Coyle with his plaque of appreciation. Both Chief Parr, and Director Coyle, once worked together as Firefighter-Paramedics in the early 1980's

New Board Members

Susan Conniry

Local Lakeside activist Susan Conniry was sworn into office at the December meeting. Susan has called Lakeside home since 1989.

Jon Lorenz

Jon Lorenz was sworn into office at the December meeting. An eight year resident of Lakeside, Jon continues to serve our country in the US Navy. Currently working in the Naval Expeditionary Command and Control Unit (NECC), Jon is celebrating his 14th year in the armed services.

New Lakeside Board Members Jon Lorenz and Susan Conniry are sworn in at the meeting.
Fire Engineer Steve Thompson Retires

Fire Chief Andy Parr congratulates Steve on 29 years of dedicated service to the community.

After 29 years of service to the community, Fire Engineer Steve Thompson has retired from the Lakeside Fire Protection District. Steve plans to spend more time with his family here in the Santee area. Steve was last assigned to E26s (Blossom Valley Station) on A-Division.

Submitted By: Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

Friday, December 10, 2010

San Diego Gas and Electric Gas Appliance Safety


By properly caring for your appliances, you'll help ensure safe and effective operations.
  • Have your gas appliances inspected annually by a licensed qualified professional or SDG&E.
  • Never store rags, mops, paper or other combustibles near any gas appliance.
  • Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
  • Never store or use flammable products in the same room or near any gas or heat-producing appliances. Flammable products include gasoline spray paints, solvents, insecticide, adhesives, foggers, varnish, cleaning products and other pressurized containers.
  • When operating a decorative gas log, open the fireplace/chimney damper completely.
  • Never use your oven, range or out-door barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Carbon Monoxide

To help keep your gas appliances operating safely and efficiently, SDG&E or a licensed, qualified professional should check your gas appliances every year. Not performing annual maintenance may result in inefficient appliance operation, and in some cases, dangerous exposure to carbon monoxide.

What Causes Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. In the case of home gas appliances, this can be caused by improper installation, poor maintenance, or other appliance misuse or failure.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When incomplete combustion occurs in your home’s gas appliances, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning of you and your family. The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion. Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death by asphyxiation.

Signs That May Indicate The Presence Of Carbon Monoxide

  • A yellow, large and unsteady gas appliance burner flame (with the exception of decorative gas log appliances).
  • An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
  • Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.

What To Do If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Is Present In Your Home

  • If safe to do so, immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance.
  • Evacuate the premises and call 911.
  • Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
  • Contact SDG&E at 1-800-411-SDGE (7343) or a licensed, qualified professional immediately to have the appliance inspected.
  • Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by SDG&E or a licensed, qualified professional.

How To Maintain And Use Gas Appliances To Prevent Carbon Monoxide

  • Vacuum around burner compartments, and inspect and replace furnace filters on forced-air units or central heating systems according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Make sure to properly replace the front panels of a forced-air unit or the burner compartment door of a gas wall heater.
  • Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
  • Assure that appliance venting is intact and unblocked. Have all gas appliances and venting repairs done by a licensed, qualified professional.
  • In higher altitude areas, where snow can accumulate on rooftops, ensure that gas appliance intake and exhaust vents are clear of obstructions.
  • When using your gas fireplace, make sure the damper is open.
  • Never use your gas oven for space heating.
  • Gas appliance maintenance is always the homeowner’s responsibility. However, San Diego Gas & Electric will perform appliance safety checks upon request.
    • 1-800-411-SDGE (7343)

Carbon Monoxide Home Alarms

Carbon monoxide alarms may provide an extra level of safety, but they also require routine maintenance and replacement at least every three to five years to perform properly. Even with alarms in place, regular gas appliance maintenance is still required. Inspection and routine maintenance are still the best defense against accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances.

Furnace Safety

Important furnace recall information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
It's important to maintain your furnace for safety and operating efficiency. Follow the tips listed below for the types of furnace in your home.

Floor Furnace

  • Avoid lint build-up by vacuuming your floor furnace regularly.
  • Keep children away from the grill, as it gets very hot.
  • Avoid fires by not placing rugs, furniture or combustible items over the grill or blocking the air flow.

Wall Furnace

  • Clean burners compartment of built-in vented wall furnaces once a month during the heating season.

Central Gravity Furnace

  • Keep furnace heat register free of lint and dust.
  • Don't store items nearby which might stop the airflow.
  • Many gas furnaces use air from the room to operate. Lint and dust carried by air, or items stored in or around the furnace can block airflow. In order to operate safely and efficiently, your gas furnace must be kept free of dust and lint build-up or other obstructions stored near the furnace, such as newspapers or cleaning equipment.
  • Most forced-air furnaces have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. The filter should be checked monthly for lint build-up during periods of furnace use and cleaned or replaced if necessary.
  • When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Most newer forced-air furnaces have a safety switch that prevents furnace operation when the filter compartment door/panel is not in place. Some older forced-air furnaces do not have a safety switch and can be operated with the filter compartment door/panel off or not properly in place.
    • These older furnaces, when installed in a closet and operated with the panel/door not in place, will circulate carbon monoxide throughout the house.

Unvented Gas Heaters

Caution: Unvented gas heaters are unsafe.
Using an unvented gas heater in your home is dangerous and a violation of the California Health and Safety Code. These heaters are not approved for use in homes because of the following safety hazards.
  • Poor operation can result in an accumulation of hazardous fumes.
  • Unless a room heater has enough air from an outside vent or an open window, all of the oxygen in a room can be used up, resulting in serious illness or death.
  • The flames in these heaters may not be fully covered, which could result in injuries or fires.
  • Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose

Water Heaters

All gas appliances have a main burner flame and most also have a pilot flame. To reduce the risk of flammable vapors being ignited by these flames, follow these tips.
  • Do not install a water heater where flammable products will be stored or used.
  • Water heaters installed in garages must be elevated a minimum of 18 inches above the floor.
  • Lower water heater temperature to prevent scalding accidents. Water temperatures above 125° F can cause severe burns or even death.
  • Read your instruction manual before setting the temperature. It should contain information about temperature-limiting valves.
  • Feel the water temperature before bathing or showering.
  • Earthquakes can cause improperly secured water heaters to move or topple. To help prevent this, we recommend you strap it solidly to the wall studs.
  • Contact your local building department or permitting agency to confirm that your water heater is properly secured.

Ranges And Ovens

  • Never use your range or oven to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.
  • Keep burners and the range top clean. Accumulations of grease can create a fire hazard.

Natural Gas Fireplace Logs

To help avoid serious accidents, the damper must be blocked open on a permanent basis.

Attic Insulation Safety

Attic insulation can help lower your energy bills. Improperly installed installation, however, can create a fire hazard. Be sure to use the following tips for new and previously installed attic insulation.
  • Keep insulation away from all heat source, furnaces, water heaters, recessed light fixtures, fan motors, doorbell transformers, chimney, flues and vents.
  • Install barrier made of non-combustible material around the above heat sources.
  • Keep insulation away from all bare wires or "knob and tube" wiring.
  • Keep the air supply openings to the forced-air furnace free of any insulation.
  • Leave attic or eave vents uncovered.
  • Periodically check attic for insulation movement.
  • Contact a state-licensed insulation contractor if you have any questions about proper installation.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Safety Tips from the United States Fire Administration

A Season for Sharing in Fire Safety

Each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.

Preventing Christmas Tree Fires

Christmas Tree Fire Hazards - Movie segments demonstrating how fast a live Christmas tree can become fully engulfed in flames. Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Holiday Lights

Maintain Your Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.

Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended

Holiday Decorations

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace
It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers and may result in a chimney fire.

Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Candle Care

Avoid Using Lit Candles
If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.