FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security officials urge post residents who plan to decorate for the holiday season to be mindful of the types of decorations and where they place them.

It's important to know what type of power cords to use for lights and where to place them, said Joe Harris, DPTMS Operations Branch chief, during a safety stand down meeting Nov. 19. It's also important to know what types of decorations are safest to use in the home.

"There are approximately 8,700 injuries in the home each year during the holidays," he said. "A lot of that is due to fires, but it fluctuates each year."

Those who like to have live Christmas trees shouldn't buy them too early, Harris said. The trees tend to dry out over time, even when properly watered, and if they are decorated with lights, it can cause a fire.

Those who get artificial trees have less to worry about, but there are still issues that can be hazardous.

"You should wear eye protection when putting up an artificial tree because they are made of wire and it would be easy to get one in the eye," he said. "They are fire resistant, but they can still catch on fire. They just won't burn as quickly."

If a fire were to happen in the home, it's important everyone in the house knows what to do, said Kenneth Harrell, Fort Rucker Fire Prevention Office inspector.

"You need to have a plan for getting everybody out of the house," he said. "Once you're outside, don't go back in. Also, have a meeting place for everyone to go to once they're out."

Electrical cords made for indoor use should not be used outdoors, Harris added. However, cords made for outdoors are fine for either use.

"Check all cords before you start to use them," he said. "Look for cracks or frayed ends. Be careful where you place them, too. Don't put them in doorways where people might trip on them and don't put rugs or mats over them because it could start a fire."

If a cord starts to build up heat, that means it is overloaded and could short out, Harris added.
When putting lights up on a house, it's important to not use things like nails or staples to hold them up, he said. A staple could puncture the cord and cause electrocution or fire. Clamps are better because it won't puncture the cord and it is more secure.

"The bottom line is, keep it simple and keep it safe," Harris said.