Hidden holiday fire risks spark fire safety awareness

Overloaded outlets and power strips cause thousands of fire each year.

Firefighters respond to more than 365,000 house fires in the U.S. each year. What may surprise you is that most of them happen during the winter months, around the holiday season.

Click here to learn about how prevalent holiday house fires are from KHQA This Morning.

They're beautiful, but if not maintained, real Christmas trees can be a real fire hazard.

That's the word from Michael Dade, a firefighter with the Quincy Fire Department.

"When they catch fire, they go up fast," Dade said. "They're one of the biggest dangers in your home during the holiday season." Click here to hear more from KHQA This Morning.

Dade says it's important to re-cut your tree at an angle after purchase. Then continue to water it thoroughly to keep the tree from drying out.

But perhaps what's scary during this holiday season, are the fire hazards you can't see. One of them is in the fireplace. Without proper yearly maintenance, creosote, or soot, can collect in the chimney and catch fire. Click here to learn more about chimney fires from KHQA This Morning.

"It's a hidden fire and grows until it gets into the structure of the entire house," Dade said. "The reason why it's so dangerous is because when we get on the scene they are not necessarily contained. It doesn't take much for that heat from the fire to transmit into the structure."

Are you guilty of this no-no? Overloaded outlets and power strips cause thousands of fire each year and are a common sight for local firefighters like Jerry Mast.

"Anytime you're adding appliances to a power strip you're adding more current," Mast explained. "The more current; the hotter the wiring is going to get. Sooner or later the wires get so hot they can't contain the heat anymore that transmits to something flammable and you have a house fire."

Keep your home safe by being aware of the electrical current each of your power strips can handle. Compare that to the current you have plugged in and then reduce the number of appliances. Also, do not plug another power strip into a power strip. This practice is dangerous. Click here to learn more about how to keep power strips safe from KHQA This Morning.

It's also important to only plug one heat-oriented appliance into each power strip.

Remember this tip - you can only link three incandescent light strands safely to one outlet. If you're working with high efficiency LED lights, seven strands can be linked at a time on one outlet. The limit is due to the current and heat put out by each strand.

Click here to learn more about safe outdoor lighting from KHQA This Morning.