It's often said this is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. From dry Christmas trees to burning candles, house fires happen all too often over the holidays. That's why Sioux Falls firefighters want to remind everyone to think safety first.
Within seconds, a Christmas tree can be engulfed in flames and quickly spread throughout the house. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue officials say the best way to prevent such fires is to make sure you continually keep a tree watered.
"Because once they become dry, they become a fire hazard. They are easy to ignite and they burn quickly," Division Chief Jeff Helm of Sioux Falls Fire Rescue said.
The other thing you should always do is inspect your Christmas lights. One in every three Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
"Just go through and test them, make sure there are no wires that could catch fire and that they are operating properly and that you're using them properly," Helm said.
Helm says that usually means stringing no more than three sets of lights together, but make sure you always follow the instructions. And beware of burning candles.
"If you have to use a real candle, we suggest you use a battery-operated candle, but if you're going to use a real candle, just remember to keep a clear distance around it. Keep it in a container made for it, so that way it can't be knocked over easily and keep it away from children and pets," Helm said.
Helm says December is the most-dangerous month for home candle fires and he wants people to know that the next five days are typically when tragedy can strike your home.
Never leave a lit candle unattended either. That goes for space heaters as well. Helm says if you're using an alternate source of heat during these frigid temperatures make sure it too is a safe distance from flammable materials and always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Plus, make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home.