Deck The Halls With Care - Fire Department Offers Holiday Safety Tips

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - From people handling turkey fryers over the Thanksgiving holiday to dry Christmas trees and decorating with candles... a lot can go wrong.

Fire investigators say the winter season usually sees an uptick in fire calls.

"Right now we're running from call to call, keeping things as good as we can," Topeka Fire Investigator Michael Martin said.

Firefighters spent the Thanksgiving weekend on alert. Crews responded to a call at Taco John's at 1015 SW Wanamaker and to a home fire at 5713 SW Avalon on Sunday.

65-year-old Gloria Ruddy lives there and said a working smoke alarm saved her.

It's not clear if a space heater was at fault in her case, but fire officials say they are one of the causes of increased calls to the station.

"We always seem to see an uptick in calls when winter season approaches," Martin said. "We've got so many things going on, people running their heaters for the first time, people using space heaters. There's just generally more activity this time of the year, so more things can possibly go wrong."

Fire officials want Kansans to deck the halls, but with care.

"We need to make sure, if we're using a live Christmas tree, that we get one that's in good shape, that's not dead. We need to make sure that there's always water for that tree, as much water as possible," he said.

Other tips include:
-Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent.
-Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.
-Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
-Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
-Inspect your holiday lights for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up.
-Do not leave holiday lights unattended!
-Do not overload electrical outlets. Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it's safe.
-Use only nonflammable decorations.
-Don't block exits.
-Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace.
-Avoid using lit candles.
-Do not use candles on or near a Christmas tree!