Practice fire safety to help 'Keep the Wreath Red"

How wonderful it is on a snowy December night to pull into the drive and see Christmas tree lights twinkling in the front window.

But leaving those lights on while you’re not home is a safety hazard that can lead to a fire. And in the event of a holiday-related fire, the Hinsdale Fire Department will swap out a red bulb with a white one on the wreath hanging just inside the fire station’s mini museum near the main entrance at 121 Symonds Drive.

The annual “Keep the Wreath Red” campaign is a joint effort between the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and area fire departments.

The fire department offers these reminders as well to help ensure a safe holiday season.

• In addition to turning off the lights on a live tree when leaving home, remember to water trees frequently. When the needles become brittle, it’s time to stop using the lights. To see just how quickly a dried-out tree burns compared to a well-watered one, watch the video on the National Fire Prevention Association’s website at

• Check all illuminated decorations to make sure they are in good condition, with no frayed or cracked wires. The NFPA recommends choosing decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.

• Use extreme caution with holiday candles and all other open flames to assure they are safe and will not set fire to nearby objects. All candles should be blown out when you’re leaving the room or going to bed.

• Make sure the fireplace is in good working order and the chimney is free from obstructions and creosote build-up.

Christmas wrappings and tree branches should not to be burned in the fireplace. Their intense and rapid burning can cause chimney fires or force flames to extend out of the firebox and into the home.

• Check smoke detectors and make sure they are in good working order. If the detectors have batters that can be replaced and were not when the clocks were turned back last month, replace them now.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, U.S. fire departments respond to almost 800 home fires started by holiday decorations or Christmas trees each year. These fires caused an annual average of four civilian fire deaths, 33 civilian fire injuries and $14 million in direct property damage.

Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in more than two in five home Christmas tree fires. Candle fires peak in December and January, with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months.

If you have questions or would like more information, call the fire department at (630) 789-7060 or visit the department’s page on the village website at