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Firefighters Warn the Holidays Can be Dangerous

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LAWTON, Okla._

The weekend following Thanksgiving, while many families are still munching on leftovers, the close of one holiday signifies the beginning of another.

Traditionally, millions of homes across the country start to light up with Christmas cheer as families spend this holiday weekend stringing lights and setting up their Christmas trees.

But fire fighters warn the holiday season can be all but merry with the increase of electricity running through people's homes.

Next to holiday shopping, the biggest dilemma for many is deciding whether to go with real or artificial.

"On a cut tree the lights dry the tree out. On an artificial tree, what happens is you short too many lights on a tree, you plugged them into one and it shorts out. And it causes a fire," said Assistant Fire Chief, Jay Head.

Head says fortunately tree fires are so uncommon, he can only recall responding to one throughout his entire career.

But he says just one fire is sure to ruin your holiday season.

So to make sure that does not happen, if you decide to go with real, make sure to keep your tree hydrated.

"Cut the bottom two inches off the bottom of the tree...leave them in water," said Head.

And even if you decide to go with an artificial tree, Head warns bigger is not always better.

"Having too many lights plugged into one outlet. Power strips are always a good purchase," said Head.

And he says while you may be tempted to get the biggest bang for your buck this holiday season, make sure it does not come at the expense of your home. He says while purchasing your lights, be sure to take a second to scan the package for the UL.  

If one is posted, it means the product has been tested for safety and has passed.

"All the lights you purchase, you need to make sure an independent laboratory has tested them," said Head.

And even if you do not decide to put your outlets to use this holiday season, Head says you could still be at risk for a house fire if you are using your fire place.

He says just like an electric heater, a wood burning or gas fireplace needs to be checked out before you decide to light it.

"We just had one, our last set of shifts. A person had lit their fire place for the first time this season and they didn't have it properly cleaned. Call a chimney sweep or go down and purchase the materials yourself. Clean your fire place, don't burn anything that's not wood. Burn wood...not paper," said Head.

Head says following these tips should ensure a happy...and safe holiday season.

"Have a wonderful Christmas, a wonderful holiday; make it safe for you and your family. Practice safety first. Nobody wants their house on fire and nobody wants their Christmas presents burned up," said Head.

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