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Cal Fire, OES warn of holiday hazards

From poisonous plants to houses fires, California agencies are issuing tips to prevent injury and damage

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the holidays near, state agencies are warning the public of hazards with commonly used holiday items.

On Christmas Day, reports of candle fires peak, according to Cal Fire. The agency recommends burning candles for only one hour per inch diameter of the candle. 

When extinguishing candles, Cal Fire says to "Hold your finger in front of the flame as you blow the candle out." This process allows the air to flow around the finger and extinguish the flame from both sides preventing hot wax from splattering. 

As an alternative to regular candles, Cal Fire officials recommend using battery-operated, flameless candles to decorate, or flashlights to light dark areas. 

The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is also issuing safety tips ahead of the winter holidays to reduce hospital visits. According to Cal OES, "Emergency rooms see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating every season." 

Cal OES warned of dangers associated with the various plants used to celebrate and decorate during the holidays. Plants such as mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis are potentially poisonous and should be kept away from children, according to Cal OES. 

The state agency also warned of dangers with trees and encouraged Californians to use "fire resistant" labeled artificial trees. They said both artificial and live trees should be kept at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators. Trunks of live trees can also be cut by about 2 inches to better absorb water.

Holiday lights are also a concern for emergency rooms and state agencies. 

Cal OES says to only use outdoor labeled lights outside and to turn them off before going to sleep or leaving the house. Some lights can also have broken sockets, loose connections, or bare wires which Cal OES says to replace. 

While families celebrate the holidays, officials are hoping the public will follow safe practices to make sure that celebrations don't end in a hospital visit. 

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