Doña Ana County



Doña Ana County Fire Marshal Adolf Zubia is warning area residents that the decorations they place in their homes to mark the holidays can bring heartache if the proper safety tips are not followed.

“Christmas trees that are not kept moist can present a very serious fire hazard,” Zubia said. “Trees being sold in this area have been drying out since they were harvested. Also, families should be very careful about electrical decorations.”

To protect your home and family this holiday season, Zubia suggests the following:

* Take special precautions when buying your Christmas tree. Trees with brown, shedding needles should be rejected. If the tree looks green and fresh, take a long needle and bend it between your thumb and forefinger. If it snaps, the tree is too dry. Look for trees with needles that bend. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that the tree is too dry.

* When you bring a tree home, cut about an inch off the end of the trunk. This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb water. Make checkerboard cuts in the base at different angles to make a greater surface for water absorption.

* Get rid of trees once large amounts of needles have fallen. Dry Christmas trees burn like torches.

* Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave your home. A short circuit in the electrical wiring could cause a fire.

* Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Damaged insulation in lighting on a metallic tree could cause the entire tree to be charged with electricity.

* Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the UL label (from Underwriters Laboratories) or another reputable testing agency.

* Keep children away from lights and electrical decorations.

* Dispose of lights with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections.

* Check outdoor light labels to see that they are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside.

* Read the manufacture's instructions carefully and do not use more than the recommended number of lights in one circuit.

“If residents will follow these guidelines and employ some common sense, this will be a safe and quiet holiday season,” Zubia said. “And that’s what we all want.”