For Immediate Release: December 20, 2011

Keep Your Holidays from Going Up in Flames

Fire Marshal urges vigilance with Christmas trees, electrical cords

Raleigh -- Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin is reminding North Carolinians to stay focused on fire safetyespecially when it comes to the Christmas trees standing in their homes.

"As everyone gets busier during the holidays, we often become rushed, distracted or tired," said Goodwin. "That's when home fires are more likely to occur."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded annually to an average of 250 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Nearly half of them are caused by electrical problems, and one in four resulted from a heat source that was too close to the tree.

"By following simple rules of thumb, most home fires involving Christmas trees can be prevented," Goodwin added.

He offered the following safety tips:

For more information about fire prevention and safety, go to the North Carolina Department of Insurance and Office of State Fire Marshal Web site, or to the Web site of the National Fire Protection Association.