The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

November 19, 2013

Fire safety crucial during holiday season

PALESTINE —

Along with sharing egg nog and celebrating the hue of a reindeer's nose, fire safety is one of the most important traditions for residents to uphold this holiday season, according to Palestine Fire Chief Alan Wilcher.

Wilcher said the fire department tends to see an increase in preventable mishaps this time of year. He said local residents should practice “safety first” and “common sense” with the usual festivities.

“It's a joyous season, but it can also be a deadly season,” Wilcher said.

To favor the former, residents should use precaution while cooking, stringing lights, burning candles or say, roasting chestnuts — “on an open fire” as the carol goes — which, turns out, isn't such a great idea. Wilcher said fires should always be contained, and electrical wiring should be in pristine shape, and organized properly.

Overloaded outlets is one of the main hazards firefighters see this time of year, along with the unsafe placement of candles and heaters throughout the home. Indoor heaters should always have a 3-foot clearance from materials that could potentially ignite, Wilcher said, while candles, comparatively, should be positioned in a safe place, away from curtains, table cloths or similar materials.

“We have had cases where [a resident] had a candle away from drapery, and they had it away from the window, but they had the window open and it was on a stand that blew over and it got on the bed and caught the bed on fire,” Wilcher said. So just using “common sense” is a necessary precaution.

If candle wax is low — a quarter full, for instance — that'd be time to throw the candle away, he said, since that apple-spice jar can break when it gets too hot.

“The optimal thing would be to have it in a metal container, or have sand on the bottom, where if it did break, the sand would soak it up,” Wilcher said.

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