Holiday Decoration Safety Reminder: Don’t Let Decorations Ruin Celebrations

WESTFORD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) – The Department of Fire Services (DFS) is heeding a warning for people ahead of their festive festivities.

Fire officials are reminding residents to use extension cords safely and exercise caution with their holiday decorations after a fire started from an extension cord that was powering Christmas lights on Friday.

The fire began in a plastic “igloo” used for outdoor dining outside a Westford restaurant, according to DFS. Crews found that it started with lights that were plugged into a series of extension cords, including one with exposed wires and wrapped in duct tape. One cord ran under a door leading into the restaurant, where the friction from constantly opening and closing caused it to spark.

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While no one was hurt, Westford Fire Chief Joseph Targ and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said tragedy could have occurred if circumstances were different.

“Extension cords can be convenient, but they should always be used safely,” said Chief Targ. “Check your extension cord before use and discard it if the insulation is cracked, worn, or damaged. Replacing the cord is much less expensive than replacing all the items that can burn in a fire.”

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An electrical fire, or any type of fire, close to a Christmas tree can engulf a room in seconds. Officials say to use caution with lights, cords and heating appliances and ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly. Regularly watering Christmas trees is also helpful.

“If you’re using an extension cord outdoors, be sure it’s listed by a qualified testing organization like UL and marked for outdoor use,” said Marshal Ostroskey. “Be sure to use a cord that’s rated for the wattage of whatever you’re powering. Appliances like space heaters should be plugged directly into a wall socket that can handle the current, not an extension cord.”

More information about electrical safety can be found on the DPS's website.

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