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OUR VIEW: Practical fire safety tips for the holidays

The holiday season is officially here and like most families across the country, we are all putting up our lights, decorations and trees.

And although holiday decorating is fun and a tradition holiday we want to remind everyone to exercise caution while decorating this holiday season.

When purchasing a tree, check the tree for freshness. A dry tree is highly flammable.

To test, hold a branch about six inches from the tip and pull your hand toward the tip, allowing the branch to slip through your fingers.

If the tree is fresh, very few green needles will come off. Also, lift the tree off the ground and tap the trunk on the ground. Again, very few needles should fall off.

Data from the National Fire Prevention Association shows that U.S. fire departments responded to 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees between 2013 and 2017.

Before placing the tree in a stand designed not to tip over, cut about six inches off the trunk of the tree and soak the base of the tree in a bucket of water overnight.

The tree stand should be designed to hold plenty of water and should be checked daily.

Do not place the tree or natural garland near a fireplace, furnace vents, television or other heat sources.

Buy lights labeled by a recognized testing laboratory and check annually for frayed or damaged cords. On Christmas trees, use small lights that stay cool to the touch or LED lights which also save energy.

Secure lights, decorations, and cords to prevent wind damage and ensure that wiring and insulation are not damaged.

For outside decorations, use only outdoor lights. Never use indoor lights outside.