Know how to celebrate the holiday season safely Published Dec. 5, 2022 By Jessie R. Moreno Joint Base San Antonio Fire Emergency Services JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- The Christmas season can be the most joyous of times, but also deadly if people are not careful. Approximately 400 fires occur annually that involve Christmas trees, according to the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA. This results in more than a dozen deaths, injuries, damage and more than $10 million in property loss. Short-circuiting tree lights are cited as the leading cause. Joint Base San Antonio Fire Emergency Services offers these safety tips for choosing and preparing Christmas trees for decoration that will minimize the risk of fire and injuries. Picking the tree Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Placing the tree Before placing the tree in the stand, cut it two inches from the base of the trunk. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit. Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily. Lighting the tree Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed. After Christmas Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer. Christmas tree fast facts Nearly one of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one of every four fires. Holiday decorating Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant. Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect. Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged. Keep decorations away from windows and doors. Holiday entertaining Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan. Keep children and pets away from lit candles. Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet. Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop. Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them. Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding them. For more information about holiday safety, visit the National Fire Prevention Association website at www.nfpa.org/education or contact Kirtland's Fire Station 1 at 505-846-8286. *** Note: This article was updated to include contact information for Kirtland AFB vice JBSA-Lackland.