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Stay Fire Safe with Christmas Trees, Menorahs

The Millburn Fire Department offers tips on how to prevent fires with holiday decorations.

It's a familiar scene to see Christmas trees tethered to a roof of a car as a family brings it home. And tonight Jewish families will be lighting their menorahs for the first night of Hanukkah. Both are symbols of the holiday season.

But they both can also be fire hazards if not cared for properly.

Fire Battalion Chief Ed Wade said Christmas tree fires, although they haven't happened in Millburn-Short Hills, can be devastating because a dried out Christmas tree can go up quickly. It also produces a lot of heat, which can ignite other materials in the area of a home. The National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories has a video on YouTube showing how quickly a dried out Christmas Tree can burn.

Candles, which can be used in a menorah, can also be a problem if they are left unattended, Wade said. He said he had a candle one time that cracked when the glass at the bottom got too hot. The liquid wax oozed onto the table. "Fortunately we were right there," he said.

People should get the freshest Christmas tree they can and shouldn't place it near a fire or heat source, Wade said. Placing a tree near a heat source will cause it to dry out quicker. Plus it's important to make sure the tree holder holds a good amount of water. "When you put your tree up, immediately fill (the holder) with water and check it daily," Wade said.

If someone buys a pre-cut tree from a lot, they should make a fresh cut to the bottom of the tree, Wade said. The new cut will allow for the tree to absorb water better.

It's also important to make sure the lights on the tree do not have damaged wiring, Wade said. Today's lights do not produce the same amount of heat as the old ones, but they still can have problems with the wires.

With a menorah, Wade said people should make sure the candle is secure and stable in its holder before it is lit. The base should be firm so that it does not tip over. Candles, whether it is in a menorah or not, should not be left unattended.

If there are children around, parents should pay attention to them around the menorah, Wade said. They may become curious and get too close to the candles and knock it over.

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