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Local SERVPRO fire restoration specialist says use common sense and caution to help control risk of holiday season home fires

In a year when large holiday gatherings may not be possible, fire damage restoration specialist Anthony Wolverton of SERVPRO of Augusta/Waterville says a focus on family decorating traditions and more intimate celebrations may take on extra significance. "It's as important to keep safety top of mind with a small family gathering as it is with a large holiday party," says Wolverton. "We all enjoy bringing the glow of the holiday season to our homes with Christmas trees or menorahs and candlelight, but these statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration1 show how easy it is for home decorating to turn into a home disaster."

* The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year's Day and New Year's Eve.
* More than half of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles.
* A heat source too close to the Christmas tree causes one in every four winter fires.
* On average, one of every 52 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in death.

In addition to exercising caution with candles and heat sources, it is important to follow manufacturers' guidelines for holiday lighting, says Wolverton. "According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires.2 Though Christmas tree fires may not be common, they can be devastating to more than the house itself. They can destroy irreplaceable photos, mementos, and family heirlooms and even cost lives," says Wolverton. "To help keep your holidays bright and your home and family safe, use common sense with candles and tree placement, and follow these important home decorating guidelines3."

* Only use decorations that are flame-retardant or not flammable.
* Check holiday lights each year for frayed wires or excessive wear.
* Don't link more than three strands of holiday lights.

"In a year when so many of the things we take for granted have changed, we know people will still come together – in person or virtually – to celebrate family and holiday traditions," says Wolverton. "'Stay safe' has become a common expression in the context of public health, but this holiday season, we urge all Augusta-area home and business owners to think about 'staying safe' in their homes as they prepare for and enjoy the holiday season."

SERVPRO is an industry leader and provider of fire and water cleanup and restoration services. For more fire prevention and fire safety tips and information about fire and water damage restoration services, please visit www.servpro.com. For more information on SERVPRO of Augusta/Waterville, please contact Anthony Wolverton at (207) 622-7166 or .

1https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/holiday_infographic.pdf
2https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Seasonal-fire-causes/Winter-holidays
3https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/media/social_toolkits/toolkit_holiday.html