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Holiday fire safety tips: dig out your fire hydrants, watch your candles

North Summit Fire District
Make sure to dig out your nearby fire hydrant.

Holiday festivities are in full swing, but with that comes an increased risk of fire.

There are 47,000 fires annually during the winter season across the country, according to the American Red Cross.

Candle fires are more than four times as likely to occur during the holidays. Park City Fire Marshal Mike Owens said that’s in line with what they see locally.

“Always, always at the top of the list are candles," Owens said.

"We love them, they make our house smell nice... They’re perfectly safe to burn as long as you’re watching them. But when you leave a room, and just let fire burn in your house, sometimes bad things can happen.”

He said to make sure someone is always watching burning candles, and to remove potential flammable items nearby.

He added that people should also choose candles that are wider than they are tall, as that decreases the risk of them falling over.

Owens also mentioned heat tape as another source of winter fires.

“Really the best thing you can do is to have that inspected," he said of heat tape.

"Annually would be best, get a qualified electrician out there to make sure that they are checking that heat tape and making sure it’s installed correctly. Not all heat tape is the same. You want to make sure your heat tape is what we call “listed,” which means it's gone through a testing process to make sure that it’s safe and meets the requirements that are set forth by the federal regulations that we have.”

The fire district does have one request of the community: make sure fire hydrants aren’t covered by snow.

Owens said having to dig a hydrant out of snow slows down firefighters’ response time, and can make a difference between saving or losing structures.

“As I was driving into town today, I noticed several fire hydrants that were buried," he said.

"If you have a fire hydrant on your property, we ask that you get out there and dig it out. For us to fight a fire we almost always need water. And if we can’t get access to the fire hydrant, that’s going to delay us putting water on a fire by quite a bit.”

When it comes to maintaining live Christmas trees, Owens said to make sure their containers never run out of water.