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Firefighters warn of potential risks of fires during holiday season

Firefighters warn of potential risks of fires during holiday season
Posted at 3:00 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 17:45:47-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Around the holidays, it doesn't take long for a fire to spark, and firefighters are warning about the risks this time of year.

"You're cooking meals. You have guests over. You have parties. You have decorations that may involve candles or electricity. There are all kinds of opportunities," said Art Kohn from the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

Numbers show fires spark around the holidays. In 2016 on Christmas Day, nationwide there was a 73% increase in the number of cooking fires compared to an average day. "It's easy to get distracted and think you're only going out of the kitchen for a minute," said Kohn.

In addition, about a third of the time candles start decoration fires. "We all love candle decorations this time of year, but they're also very dangerous. How are candles dangerous? It's an open flame," he said.

Christmas trees can also catch fire easily, especially if a natural tree isn't being properly watered. Kohn recommends turning the tree of at night when sleeping. "You get a fray in a cord or a loose bulb," he said. "You get a spark or a short that could easily start a fire."

Related: FAA issues warning about holiday laser displays 

With temperatures forecast to be mild on Christmas Day this year, Kohn is worried people will be outside smoking. He's seen people lose their homes before because they didn't properly throw away a cigarette. "You want to make sure you put all smoking materials out before you leave it," he said.

All that to make sure you have a safe holiday. "We're not telling people you can't enjoy those things. Of course, you can. We're just saying you need to be vigilant and aware of what can happen if things aren't monitored carefully."