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Preventing fires during holiday season

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Clay Fire Territory’s 11th annual “Keep the Wreath Red” campaign is underway. 

It’s a national fire safety program that started 65 years ago. It's meant to bring awareness to holiday fire hazards.

“The idea is to bring safety back to the forefront of what they’re thinking about and realizing that everything that they do at home with a heat source has a potential to cause an injury or a fire,” said Dave Cherrone, Clay Fire marshal. 

Wreaths with roughly 90 red bulbs are hanging from each of the department’s five firehouses. 

If there is a preventable fire anytime between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, one of the red bulbs is changed to a white bulb.

Cherrone says 1.5 million people will drive by one of the department's stations over the next 34 days. He's confident the message will reach the people inside the cars and help Clay Fire not change a light this year.

“It’s just an awareness for people to remember, ‘Hey there’s something they’re going to be doing during the holiday season that can cause a fire,’” said Cherrone. “Just change that behavior and keep it from happening.” 

Cherrone lists ashes from wood-burning fireplaces not properly disposed of, unattended stoves and cook tops, space heaters, frayed holiday lights and broken bulbs, and burning candles as the five holiday hazards. 

He says as people prepare for family gathers and parties, they tend to forget about fire safety.

To avoid that, Cherrone asks homeowners to check cords for wear and tear, not to leave any food on cooking surfaces unattended, to shut off lights and blow out candles before leaving home, to store ashes in a metal container outside and 10 ft. away from the home, and to place space heaters 3 ft. away from anything that could catch fire. 

He adds now is also a good time to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

“No matter how small a fire is, it’s a big deal,” said Cherrone. “The more you can prevent, that means your holiday stays a holiday. You get good memories instead of bad memories. You’re spending your time with your family instead of where you’re going to be staying for the next three to six months.”


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