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N E W S   R E L E A S E


Dec. 18, 2012






Margaret Tucker, Fire Educator



James City County urges residents to be safe from fire this holiday season


Residential fires increase during the holidays according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Residential fires often involve cooking, Christmas trees, candles and holiday decorations. Most home fires can be prevented with simple preventative measures.




  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Most of these fires involve the stove top. 
  • Create a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove as well as areas where hot food and drinks are prepared or carried.
  • In case of any fire, just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 911 after you leave.
  • If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others get out and that you have quick access to an exit.
  • Keep a lid near the stove to smother small grease fires. Slide the lid over the pan and turn off the stove top. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.




  • Keep burning candles at least 12 inches away from anything flammable. Always extinguish candles when you leave the room or go to bed. 
  • Avoid using candles in the bedroom. More than 20 percent of candle fires in the United States begin in areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Never leave a child alone with a burning candle. Consider using flameless candles. Flameless candles look and smell like real candles without the danger of fire.


Christmas Trees


  • Christmas trees should never block an exit. 
  • Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from any heat source such as fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents.
  • If you have an artificial tree, check to be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
  • In choosing a fresh tree, be sure the needles are green and don’t fall off when touched. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut at least 2 inches from the base of the trunk. This will prevent sap in the tree from hardening and blocking off its ability to drink up fresh water. Add water to the tree stand and replenish it daily to keep the tree from drying out.
  • Check tree lights for labels to ensure they are approved by an independent testing laboratory. For indoor trees, only use lights labeled approved for indoor use. Outdoor lights should only be used outdoors.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, broken lights or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini-string lights and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should be taken down for safety’s sake after Christmas. Never leave a dry tree in your house, garage or outside nearby. Trees will be accepted free of charge Dec. 26-Jan. 31 at the three County Convenience Centers. For more information, visit the County’s website.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards. This will also extend their useful life.


For additional safety information, videos, printable gift tags with a safety message and more, visit the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) at NFPA Holiday. Children can visit for games, activities and free e-cards.



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