Holiday Safety Tips

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The Merced City Fire Department would like to wish your family a safe and happy holiday season --Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Years--is a prime time for residential fires. The following holiday fire safety information is being offered to help ensure that your family will be safe.

Christmas Trees

  • Watch a sobering video on how fast a Christmas tree fire can spread!
  • Trees displayed in public buildings must be treated with an approved State Fire Marshal Flame Retardant Chemical.
  • Unless your tree is a "choose and cut", re-cut the trunk at least 1 inch above the original cut.
  • Place the tree in a container or stand that will hold enough hot tap water to cover the stem at least two inches. Add water as needed.
  • Display the tree away from heat sources.
  • Use a stand that will hold the tree securely and is not easily tipped over.
  • Do not locate trees in front of exit doors, in exit ways, or corridors.


  • Use only U.L. approved products.
  • Check for old or worn insulation, cracked or broken sockets and loose connections. Discard if any of these conditions exit.
  • If using lights outside, be sure they are labeled "for outside use". Never use indoor lights outside.
  • Always unplug lights when leaving the house, retiring for the night, or when otherwise not in use.
  • Never put lights on metallic trees.
  • Never run extension cords under carpets, across walkways, under heaters, or pinched behind furniture.
  • Do not overload outlets.


  • Keep candles away from tree and other flammable decorations.
  • Place in sturdy, non-flammable holders or non-tip holders.
  • Keep candles well away from curtains and other combustible articles.
  • Never put candles in windows or near exits.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended or within reach of children.
  • Extinguish candles by wetting the wick before leaving the room or retiring for the night.


  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned prior to burning season. Be sure it is equipped with a proper spark arrester.
  • Keep screen or glass doors closed to confine embers and sparks.
  • Never burn Christmas tree branches or gift wrapping in fireplace.
  • Do not leave children unattended when fireplace is in use.
  • Keep combustible decorations away from and around fireplaces.
  • Do not break apart man-made logs.
  • Make sure fire is safely contained before leaving the room or retiring for the night.
  • Dispose of ashes in a metal container. Never put ashes in cardboard boxes, paper bags or plastic containers.
  • Place metal container with discarded ashes at least six feet away from structures and combustibles.
  • Discarded ashes will continue to smolder for days, up to three or more, so take note when placing on curb for garbage pickup.

Space Heaters

  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from furniture, bedding, clothing, walls and other combustibles.
  • Use only U.L. approved space heaters approved for indoor use.

Party Safety

  • Use flame retardant decorations.
  • Provide smokers with large, deep, non-tip ashtrays.
  • Empty ashtrays often--wet their contents before dumping them.
  • Check cushions and furniture for smoldering cigarettes.


  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing when cooking.
  • Put a lid on the pot or pan to extinguish food or grease fires.
  • Turn off heat and close oven door to extinguish a fire in the oven.
  • Keep pot handles and electrical appliance cords out of the reach of small children.

Plan Ahead

  • Have two emergency escape routes out of each room.
  • Have fire extinguisher handy, and know how to use it.
  • Smoke detector(s) - install fresh batteries (if applicable) and test regularly.
  • Carbon monoxide detector(s) - install fresh batteries and test regularly.
  • All family members should know to call "911" in case of an emergency.