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12/21/2011 - Prevent fires during the holiday season

Officials warn holiday lights are very dangerous.

With the holiday season, it can bring an increased risk of fire if ornaments and light displays are improperly handled.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, holiday lights played a role in 150 home fires per year between 2005 and 2009. The accidents resulted in eight deaths, 14 injuries and an estimated $8.5 million in homeowners insurance and direct property damage costs per year.

"December is an exciting time where almost every home on the block is accented with decorations and seasonal lighting," said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for the NFPA. "Though decorations such as candles or Christmas trees certainly spread holiday cheer, it is important to follow basic safety steps so celebrations go off without a hitch."

To ensure the holidays are celebrated without incident, the NFPA offers a few pieces of advice. For example, when using candles, they should be far removed from things that can burn, such as drapery, window shades and curtains.

When decorating Christmas trees with lights, NFPA recommends examining the strings, looking for broken cords or loose bulb connections. If spotted, the lights should be replaced with an entirely new set or broken bulbs should be swapped out with new ones.

Other Christmas tree advisories the NFPA suggests includes making sure the lights are turned off before going to bed and keeping the tree well watered.

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