Christmas lights spark numerous house fires every holiday season

Christmas lights spark numerous house fires every holiday season

Fire officials urge residents to celebrate the holidays safely. Fire officials urge residents to celebrate the holidays safely.

6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Thanksgiving is still a few days away, but a lot of folks are already getting into the Christmas spirit.

One thing many people will probably be doing over the holidays is stringing up Christmas lights.

But those lights could end up sparking a fire, if not hung correctly.

The Knoxville Fire Departments responds every holiday season to a number of house fires sparked by Christmas lights.

"People either crimping the cords on the Christmas lights or overloading the outlets," said Knoxville Fire Department Captain D.J. Corcoran.

The damage from these fires can be extensive because they start on the outside of the house, not the inside.

"It can be very dangerous. Inside the home, if you have a fire, your smoke detectors will alert you in time for you to get out, but if it's an exterior fire like that, sometimes you're just at the mercy of your neighbors," said Corcoran.

They've got several tips so your decorations stay flame-free.

First up, be sure you're using the right kind.

"Make sure that they're rated for outdoor use only. A lot of times we'll see lights that are intended for indoor use that are strung up outside. They're not as secure as far as weather," said Corcoran.

Also, don't overload your outlets with too many strands of lights.

"If you think about a 20 amp breaker controlling a room, you could have roughly 20 100 watt bulbs in that room," said Corcoran.

One of the most important safety tips when hanging Christmas lights is how you actually suspend them.

A lot of people tend to use a stapler when hanging them on the outside of their house.

You want to be sure you don't damage or smash any of the cord.

Crimping that cord reduces the flow of electricity.

"When you reduce that flow, it creates friction which creates heat, which can cause a fire," said Corcoran.

That's the exact spot where many of these holiday fires begin.

"Our arson investigators have looked and determined that that's where fires have started in the past," said Corcoran.

The Knoxville Fire Department also says take note of how long you're leaving your lights on.

Using a timer that automatically cuts them off will reduce how hot they get and also help lower your electric bill.

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