The holiday season is the time of year when most people are thinking about shopping for gifts, office parties, and spending time with family and friends. Sadly, this is also the time when home fires peak. State Farm spokesman Justin Tomczak said that “approximately one-third of home fires and home fire deaths occur during December, January and February.”

State Farm reminds consumers that the potential for a home fire is highest during the winter months. A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that nearly 50 percent of Americans age 23 and over increased their chances of a home fire because of decorating for the holidays:

• 34 percent connect multiple extension cords together
• 16 percent put up holiday lights without inspecting them
for frayed cords
• 9 percent let their tree dry out after it is decorated in
the home
• 9 percent have lit a fire without an annual chimney
• 5 percent have left a burning candle unattended

To help keep your family and loved ones safer during the holiday and winter season, learn how to avoid these dangers:

1. Cooking Calamities: While November is the top month for grease and cooking-related fires, December is a close second. Unattended cooking remains one of the top causes of home fires.

2. Space heaters: Home heating equipment is second to cooking fires for causing home structure fires. More than half of home heating fires occur during December, January and February. Avoid setting up a space heater too close to curtains, furniture, or holiday decorations. Remember to keep at least three feet of clear space around it and set it up on the floor unless it is designed for other use.

3. Children Playing with Fire: The number of fires and deaths caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. Never leave children unsupervised with ignition materials such as matches or lighters.

4. Caution with Candles: Christmas Day is the peak day of the year for candle fires. Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

5. Counterfeit Electronics: Christmas lights are the perfect product for counterfeiting – high volume and low manufacturing cost. Look for CSA or UL certification marks that indicate the product was tested and met the product safety standards.

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