SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - If you aren't planning it out carefully, fire dangers in December take on an added risk factor with holiday lights on your property, decorative trees and many new options to create a spectacular display.
Fire officials on the Central Coast are ready with advice and willing to do inspections if you need one.
The National Fire Protection Association says each year there are numerous fires related to Christmas decorations or holiday trees along with injuries and millions of dollars in direct property damage.
Nearly half of the fires were linked to the electrical setup for decorations.
"You want to make sure you have good connections, that they are not frayed. You want to make sure you are not putting too much of a load on the circuit," Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Rob Rappaport said.
He recommends low energy LED lights. "They don't draw a lot of energy and they don't heat up as much."
Putting together even the safest light systems should be done with a plan, and you should try to disperse the plugs into different outlets.
"Surge protectors are helpful. What we don't want people to do is to, what we call a 'daisy chain' or, put one multi-plug adaptor or power strip into another one and into one outlet."
Lavish decorations are hard on some electrical systems, especially in older homes.
"A lot of the motors, (for decorations) and you have to blow up the decorations outside. We want to make sure they are spread out into multiple outlets and not all into one," said Rappaport.
Inside he says candles should be cleared of trees, decorations, drapes, and gift packages. "Any kind of the decorations, you know the fake plants those items that look wonderful, we just just want to keep them away from the candle flames," said Rappaport.
Overloaded circuits are also a concern, especially when too many light strands are put together into one outlet.
Already many homes in Carpinteria, Montecito and Santa Barbara have been decorated with large displays. Some have mechanical elements to them and inflatable characters.
It's also advised that you turn off the lights at a designated time each night or when you are not at home.
It's also recommended to have a fire extinguisher nearby, and that you go through proper training.