Holiday decorating should be done with caution

Holiday decorators should use caution this holiday season. One main recommendation is to not overload electrical outlets.

GREENSBURG – Holiday decorating is underway or coming soon to most area homes.

As they do regularly, the Greensburg Fire Department and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) are offering safety reminders to those who wish to get in the holiday spirit with decorations.

Both the ESFI and GFD Assistant Chief Brian Wenning advised it’s important to take care of real Christmas trees. When buying, the ESFI says to check for freshness since the tree will stay green longer, and will remain less of a fire hazard.

Trees should also be cut one or two inches from the base of the trunk before placing a tree in its stand. This will help with water absorption. Trees should be placed at least three feet away from heat sources.

Wenning also mentioned not overloading outlets, specifically when using them to power lights.

“The main thing is don’t overload electrical outlets,” Wenning said. “Also, it’s imperative to water live Christmas trees every day. They look good, but can dry out very quickly.”

The ESFI recommends looking for the “fire resistant” label if you plan to buy an artificial tree.

Electrical ornaments or light strings on artificial trees with metallic leaves or branch coverings should not be used, the ESFI added.

The ESFI also says to use a cord that is long enough to meet your needs. You should never attempt to extend the length of an extension cord by connecting with another extension cord. If you’re using an extension cord outdoors, make sure you purchase one that is meant to be used outside.

ESFI and Wenning recommend making sure all extension cords are certified by a nationally recognized independent testing lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek, or Canadian Standards Association.

When it comes to candles, Wenning said it’s crucial to keep those out of the reach of children and combustibles.

“Keep combustibles and children away from candles,” Wenning said. “Just for the purpose of lighting candles, people will have lighters and matches out, so those need to be put away.”

Wenning has also said to make it a habit to unplug items before leaving the house and when going to bed.

The assistant chief said it’s a good idea to take a walk around your home and look for any hazards like overpowering outlets or candles that are still burning before leaving or heading to bed. He also stressed the importance of having a working smoke detector.

Additionally, Wenning says chimneys should be inspected before use.

For more information on safely decorating for the holidays, visit

To reach the GFD, call 812-663-8671.

Joshua Heath can be contacted at 812-663-3111 ext. 217401 or at

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