If you’re putting up holiday lights and you’re ready to go shopping for your Christmas tree, have a jolly old time. But you need to be aware this is the time of year when there’s an increased risk of fire danger.

“We need to make sure that the wiring on lights is not frayed, not cut, not showing any signs of unusual wear or damage,” said William Kramer, acting director of the state Division of Fire Safety.

He stressed you should not be using extension cords, if possible.

“If we do have to use extension cords, they should be of the proper size to carry the current of whatever we’re powering with those extension cords,” he said.

Also, if you plan to run extension cords outside, make sure they’re rated for outside use.

“If we’re buying anything new, whether it’s lighting, anything electrical, we need to make sure that it has a UL listing on it.”

He said there are a lot of inexpensive decorations on the market that come from all over the world, and many of them are not UL listed, which means they’re more apt to have a problem.

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Michael Dillon, a New Brunswick Fire Department lieutenant, said you also have to be very careful using candles.

“The three most probable days to have a fire due to candles are Christmas Day, New Years day and Christmas Eve. One third of candle fires actually start in bedrooms,” he said.

“Keep candles 12 inches away from anything that is combustible. Anything that could catch fire should be kept clear. Never leave candles unattended.”

If candles are lit in your house, “we need to make sure that they’re not unattended. We need to make sure they’re not in a place where they’re near combustible materials. We need to make sure children and pets can’t get near the candles.”

And then there’s the Christmas tree itself.

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“We need to make sure that we keep them well watered. We need to make sure that cut trees are not put near any type of space heater,” said Kramer.

“You want to make sure your tree doesn’t dry up ... and you don’t want to leave your Christmas tree lights on unattended under any circumstances.”

He recommends taking your Christmas tree out of your house or apartment the day after Christmas, because they can dry up quickly and pose a safety hazard.

“One out of every 31 Christmas tree fires results in a fatality, and one third of those fires are caused by electrical problems,” he said.

It’s also important to make sure there are working smoke alarms on every level of your house and carbon monoxide detectors outside any sleeping areas.

“We need to make sure we check the batteries on both of those units monthly, and if either unit is over 10 years old, we need to make sure we replace it. The life expectancy is around 10 years,” he said.

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