By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- The soft glow of candles in the window, twinkling lights hanging from the rooftop or blinking merrily around an evergreen are age-old symbols that the holidays are in full swing, but the calm beauty of the idyllic scene can be ruined all too quickly.
A small fire that starts inside a home because of bad electrical wiring or an electricity overload can be deadly, said representatives from the Florida Forest Service.
During Christmas tree choosing and set up, it is important to choose a tree with green needles that do not fall off when touched, a press release said.
Properly watering the tree is important, but it is just as important to make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, including fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or house lights, and does not block a house exit.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they have a higher chance to be deadly and a heat source too close to a tree causes one in every five Christmas tree fires.
When decorating a tree, it is advised to connect no more than three strands of mini string sets together, and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulb light strands as a safety precaution. The newer LED-light strands are labeled with manufacturer suggestions for how many can be strung together.
One of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems, said a press release from the National Fire Protection Association.
Also be sure to read the packaging information for electrical light strands and have been tested by an independent laboratory. Some lights are specifically designed only for indoor or outdoor use.
After the holiday season is over, promptly taking down lights from the tree or from outdoor decorations to be stored can prevent unnecessary hazards and even increase the longevity of the lights.
For more safety tips, call the Vero Beach Florida Forest Service office at (772) 778-5085 or visit www.floridaforestservice.com.