By Manny Otiko|California Black Media

With the holiday season just around the corner, many Americans will soon start decorating their homes with festive lights and ornaments. But they need to remember to think about safety.

Many of these decorations are fire disasters just waiting to happen. And these kinds of accidents are fairly common. According to a fact sheet from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA,) an average of 200 fires per year were caused by Christmas trees from 2011 to 2015. These fires caused an average of six deaths, 16 injuries and $14.8 million in property damage every year.  Forty percent of Christmas tree fires happened in December.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) stated that some of the items that can also cause fires at this time of the year include dry leaves, overloaded outlets and lights strung around the home.

“At PG&E, we work hard to safely and reliably provide the electricity that powers our homes, our lives and our economy. Brightening our communities with holiday lights is a great tradition, but we need everyone to be aware of their surroundings to avoid electrical hazards and to prevent fires. Our safety tips are simple to follow and help make sure everyone has a safe and joyful holiday,” said Alicia Bert, Community Relations specialist at PG&E.

Here are some tips that PG&E offers to prevent fire hazards:

  • Be aware of your surroundings when putting up outside lights. Make sure you look out for overhead power lines when you are putting up a ladder to string up lights.
  • The company recommends that you keep at least 10 feet away from a power line. Contact with these lines can be fatal.
  • When taking down lights, watch out for branches that may have come in contact with power lines. Trees, limbs and even the ground can become electrified if they contact a power line.
  • Turn off decorative lights when you’re leaving the home or going to bed.
  • Don’t place power cords next to furniture or under rugs. These items can heat up and spark a fire.
  • Don’t overload power cords and wall sockets. According to the NFPA, power outlets or lighting was involved in 40 percent of Christmas tree fires.
  • If you’re using a natural tree, make sure you keep it watered and away from a heat source. A dry tree is a potential fire hazard.

In a press release Chief Dennis Mathisen, California State Fire marshal also recommended all residents thoroughly review their homes for potential fire hazards.

“That means go room by room, and really look closely at where you have items placed, stored, and plugged in. We all can do a better job of reducing our risks by being more fire aware and creating a potentially life-saving escape plan and then practicing it,” said Mathisen.

PG&E added that by following these safety precautions customers can avoid injury and have a safe holiday season. For more information, go to


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