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STATEWIDE — It’s the time of the year where you may be decking your halls with lights, or putting up a Christmas tree. But, it’s also the time of year where it gets a bit chilly, which means you may be lighting a fire or bringing out that space heater.

“We do see an increase in fire and burn injuries related to decorations, and more cooking, and the heating appliances that people use,” said Director of Public Education with the National Fire Protection Association, Andrea Vastis, when asked about fires this time of year.

She said a good rule of thumb to have is a 3 feet rule.

“Keep your tree three feet away from a heat source, anything that can catch fire,” she said. “Keep those portable space heaters 3 feet away from curtains, or bedding.”

That rule also applies to kids and pets when you’re cooking, in case they try to grab or bump anything onto a stove or open flame.

Just last Saturday, a house on Greer Dell Road in Indy caught fire while a man was asleep on the couch, the smoke alarm woke him, and he was able to get out. He told the Indianapolis Fire Department he believes the fire started because of a space heater in the back bedroom.

Then on Monday, a woman’s home caught fire. Kyrsten Doyle said it was because of a candle she left burning on her vanity. She was downstairs with her son when she noticed the smoke.

“You have maybe two to three minutes to get out of a home,” Vastis said. “Unfortunately, today’s fabrics and furniture burn hotter and faster. Once that fire starts, once you hear the sound of that smoke alarm it is time to get out.”

She shared a few tips on how to avoid fires this holiday season:

  • Make sure your tree isn’t dry
  • Only use outside lights outside
  • Make sure none of the chords you’re plugging in have frayed wires
  • Stand by your pan when cooking
  • Have a meeting place outside your home in case of a fire
  • Don’t run back inside
  • Call 911 once you’re outside the home