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Local business provides safety tip: How to light the night without igniting a fire

If your home, like millions of other households in the United States, includes a Christmas tree and festive holiday decorations, you should be aware that the breathtaking beauty of the decorations also comes with a fire risk. That is why William Piper, owner of SERVPRO of Fargo, is offering helpful tips to local residents as we enter the month of December.

"Basking in the glow of a warm fire or relaxing in a festively decorated home or office building may actually present a formula for a hazardous situation - if you don't take the proper precautions," Piper said. "We want to show local residents how to keep their night before Christmas from becoming a nightmare before Christmas."

Candles and Christmas trees have been reported to be two of the contributing factors of fires during the winter months. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Christmas trees account for an estimated 200 fires annually and cause more than $6 million in property damage. Candles alone cause an estimated 15,600 fires each year, causing 1,270 injuries and more than $539 million in property damage. December is the peak month for candle fires, and Christmas is the peak day.

Piper is offering the following tips for the members of the local community to consider when putting up and maintaining their holiday decorations this December:

*Do not overload power outlets with holiday lights. Pay close attention to the manufacturer's instructions on the number of lights you can string together.

*Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.

*Be careful not to splatter wax when extinguishing a candle.

*Use flashlights instead of candles for emergency lighting.

*Do not purchase a Christmas tree that is dry or dropping needles

excessively. Be sure to water your Christmas tree regularly.

*Do not use strings of lights that are worn, frayed, manually spliced or broken.

*If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled


*Do not link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Be sure to periodically check the wires; they should not be warm to the touch.

"While holiday decorations can provide plenty of charm and cheer with assorted bright lights, Christmas trees and life-size Santa Claus figures, it is our responsibility to inform residents of potential dangers. We, too, want to see the glowing lights that are symbols of the winter holiday season, but we also want the community to be safe," Piper said. "No matter what local residents' reasons are for celebrating this month, we want everyone to enjoy the month of December safely."