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Tips for staying safe this holiday season

Christmas trees, holiday lights and space heaters lead to an increase in house fires this time of year.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Picking out a Christmas tree for some is a tradition as old as the holiday itself, but without the proper care, the happiest time of year could go up in flames. 

“Fifteen to 20% — our calls go up this time of year,” John Kolb of the Woodlawn Fire Department said. 

“Unfortunately, the calls go up.”

According to AAA, nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays, claiming more than 500 lives and costing $554 million in property damage each year due household items like Christmas trees, candles, holiday lights and space heaters. 

It’s something that the Jamestown Fire Department is warning its residents about after a space heater fire broke out last week. 

“Space heaters are one of the worst,” Kolb said. 

“People should watch their space heaters. They are a great thing to heat up the house and keep people warm in certain areas, but man, they are very dangerous.” 

And it’s not just watching out for space heaters. Experts say a safe holiday season starts back at the tree lot. Shoppers must make sure to pick out an evergreen that’s still full of moisture and life and avoid trees that were cut months ago and shipped from other parts of the country.  

“They've never slept, which means they're live while you cut them,” Lindstrom’s Christmas tree farm owner Ken Lindstrom said. 

“And then they're looking for water, they're not getting water and the needles actually start drying out.”

But once you’re home, you’re not in the clear yet. Experts say keeping your tree well-hydrated and at least 10 feet away from heat sources will not only protect the presents but set up Santa from another successful trip too.  

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