(WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Insurance Department and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner are highlighting the common dangers associated with holiday decorations, such as dehydrated Christmas trees, unattended candles, and decorative outside lighting.

“This time of year, we are all eager to spend time with friends and family in front of warm fires, decorating trees and lighting candles,” Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said. “However, it is important for Pennsylvanians to remember the steps they can take to keep themselves, their families, and property safe.” 

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According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles. Also, more than one in five Christmas tree fires were caused by a heat source that is too close to the tree.

“Holiday lights and candles are a beloved part of the season, but they are an exceptionally common source of ignition for house fires,” Acting State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook said. “Modern electric candles look realistic and greatly increase safety. Real candles should only be used when and where they can be monitored.”

The commissioner also has suggestions on how to keep your home as safe as possible during the holiday season.

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep all holiday greenery, including trees, well-watered.
  • Never leave burning candles or cooking appliances unattended.
  • Always keep children and pets away from open flames and hot surfaces.
  • Replace light strands that have worn or broken wires or loose bulb connections, avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many cords, and do not run extension cords beneath rugs and carpet.
  • Be sure to turn off holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Homeowners should be sure to place Christmas trees at least three feet away from a heat source, like a candle, radiator, or fireplace.

The NFPA reports that Christmas trees contributed to an annual average of two civilian fires, ten civilian fire injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage.

“Small choices for safety can pay large dividends and keep you and your loved ones safe this season,” Commissioner Cook. said  “No matter how you choose to celebrate this season, it’s always important to take the proper safety precautions.”