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Tips to keep fire safety in mind while holiday decorating

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- In an ABC57 community watch, with Thanksgiving in the past, people are decking their homes with holiday decorations.

During this time of year, The South Bend Fire Department says fires increase nationwide due to the way some decorations are hung.

SBFD recommends you inspect your holiday lights for cuts in wires or frays before they are hung and advises you don’t plug in too many lights together.

“The best thing to do is use a timer. You can set that timer to go off in the morning, maybe before you go to work, be on for a couple hours in the evening. But we definitely want to make sure that we shut off the lights before we go to bed at night,” Captain Gerard Ellis said.

When your Christmas tree goes up, make sure it’s not placed too close to fire places, heaters or candles.

The U.S Fire Administration says that one in every four winter fires are due to a Christmas tree that was too close to a heating source.

If you have a real Christmas tree, experts say water is key. Officials say to water the tree every day and get rid of it if it becomes dry. 

As you inspect your decorations, the SBFD says it is the perfect time to test the batteries to your smoke alarms. The fire department can install a new smoke alarm for South Bend residents who need a new one.

The holidays also mean more time spent in kitchen; experts say cooking fires also increase this time of the year.

The South Bend Fire Department says staying in the kitchen is the best way to prevent cooking fires.

The National Fire Protection Association says that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires, and the number one reason for kitchen fires is unattended cooking.

“If you get busy, throw an oven mitt on your hand, or set a timer for five minutes. That way if you do walk away, get on your cellphone do whatever, you have that mitt to remind you,” Ellis recommends.

Officials also say that candles are a leading cause of home fires and decoration fires this holiday season.

U.S Fire Administration recommends the consideration of flameless, battery-operated candles that can look and smell like real candles.

If you do use lit candles, make sure they are placed where they are kept away from anything that burns or places they can be easily knocked down.

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