Officials give tips on preventing Christmas tree fires - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Officials offer tips on preventing Christmas tree fires

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By Monica Hernandez - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -They're beautiful. They're festive. And they can be deadly.

"One little heat source could spell disaster for a family," said Tommy Steen, deputy director of Rankin County Emergency Operations.

All it takes is a small spark, and within a matter of seconds, a Christmas tree can go up in flames.

"The key is to keep it well-watered," said Steen.

Rankin County fire officials set a dry tree ablaze in a controlled environment at their training headquarters in Brandon. But when they tried to do the same to a watered tree, the flames wouldn't catch.

"If you have a live tree, keep it watered that you have it in your home. Check the water level at least twice a day, and add water as needed," said Steen.

And if you have an artificial tree, make sure it's flame retardent. Keep in mind, many Christmas tree fires are sparked by electrical issues.

"Before you put the lights on the tree, inspect them make sure wires aren't frayed, the sockets aren't loose, and there are no missing bulbs," said Mara Hartman, communications specialist for Entergy Mississippi.

And don't underestimate how serious the issue can be. Recently, a Jackson girl died from smoke inhalation when her family's Christmas tree caught on fire.

"One fire is one too many," said Steen.

Officials say the bottom line is, you should turn your Christmas tree lights off when you leave home or go to sleep. Make sure the stand is filled with water if you have a live tree. And remember to make sure your smoke detector is working.

©2009 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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