Welcome to December. Where did this year go? A short spring followed by an early winter didn’t seem very fair but here we are in the midst of the holiday season.

Even though fire safety is an important topic and you need to practice it year round, December brings with it some unique challenges. The holiday season is a hectic time of year and when people become distracted, thoughts of fire safety may fall to wayside. It is not uncommon to have the majority of home related fires to occur during this time of year. One of the reasons being you will be spending a lot of your time in your home. It’s colder out and while people are home preparing for the holidays they may be running space heaters, cooking more than usual, more appliances and decorations being plugged in. Just so everyone understands, there is no such thing as an accidental fire. A fire inspector may report a fire was accidental, this means without intent but all fires have a reason for starting. For example, leaving a candle burning to close to combustibles. The fire did start by accident, but human interaction brought us to that point. Momentary carelessness can cause financial and personal loss.

Here are some items to consider during this holiday season:

1. Do not overload electrical circuits. With Christmas lights and ornaments, it’s easy to use too many extension cords and strips cords for what your circuits can handle. Do not put extension cords under rugs or blankets. Do not use multiple extension cords plugged into each other. Extended cords reduce the wattage capabilities of the individual cords and may lead to a meltdown/fire.

2. If you are using a space heater, please plug it directly into the outlet. They are not designed to be plugged into an extension cord or surge strip. 3. Never leave cooking appliances unattended, and be mindful of what is on the counter near it.

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4. If you choose a natural Christmas tree – keep it well watered, use low intensity lights. Never use candles or open flames near the tree.

5. Never leave candles unattended in the home.

6. Leave a 3 foot clearance for space heaters, and turn off when you leave the room.

7. Have an operating fire extinguisher on hand at all times.

Along with these in home tips, please consider outside winter tips also.

1. Please adopt a fire hydrant and keep a 3 foot clearance from snow and ice.

2. Keep your gas meters free from snow and ice.

3. Watch sewer vents so they do not freeze shut.

4. Make sure that the extension cords you use outside for you decorations are marked for outdoor use.

5. If you start your vehicle early to warm it up while it is in the garage, please open the garage door. All of these are important fire safety tips to be followed in your household. At any time should you smell or see something abnormal in your residence, please do not hesitate to call the fire department by dialing 911.

We respond to a variety of emergencies from fire related, odor investigations, medicals, carbon monoxide calls, gas calls and more. If we cannot help you, we will find a resource that can. From the West Fargo Fire Department, Have a safe and merry holiday season.