Tis the season for decorating, cooking special meals and, if Mother Nature allows, sipping hot chocolate in front of a fireplace.
But the holiday season can turn disastrous quickly when accidents or fires occur. Following a few safety tips can save the heartache of a trip to the emergency room. And for those who enjoy a live Christmas tree, special precautions should be taken because a burning tree can quickly fill a room with fire and deadly gasses.
Here, fire officials from Colleyville, Grapevine and Southlake offer a bit of advise.
Colleyville Fire Capt. Kenny Phillips said now is a good time to make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working, as Christmas trees were the cause of more than 200 house fires between 2010 and 2014 across the United States.
Phillips said that in Colleyville, Christmas tree fires have not been reported over the last several years but "that does not mean people should let their guard down."
"Real trees are more dangerous than artificial trees," Phillips said. "The needles on a real tree become dry and it takes very little heat to catch the needles on fire."
Natural trees need to be watered regularly and when decorating, lights should be UL approved, in good condition, and no more than three strings are plugged together, Phillips said.
The fire chief also advised to not overload electrical outlets and make sure lights are unplugged when leaving the house or going to bed.
Falls are another prevalent injury during the holiday.
"Every year, the fire department responds to people that have fallen through the attic getting decorations down, or fall off ladders while hanging lights," Phillips said. "When using ladders, make sure the ground around the ladder is clear, have someone hold the ladder and when on the ladder, do not over-extend your reach."
Other hazards include serious injuries from fireworks, which are against city ordinance, and candles, with the top three days for home candle fires being Christmas, New Year's Day and Christmas Eve, Phillips said.
"When using a candle, make sure there is no combustible products near the flame and to make sure the candle is extinguished when leaving the room," he said.
Randie Frisinger, Grapevine deputy chief/fire marshal, said like Colleyville, there is no record of Christmas tree fires in the past few years.
"Our problems come down to two items—cooking and fireplaces," Frisinger said.
Last year, Grapevine firefighters responded to four building fires, three fires confined to a container and one chimney fire during the holiday months.
"Cooking fires are primarily due to unattended cooking leading to some building fires. Some of those cooking fires are confined to the stove or pan," Frisinger said. “Chimney incidents are usually caused from overloading the fireplace with wood or manufactured fireplace logs that damage the chimney and spreads the fire.”
Southlake Fire Chief Mike Starr said the city has been fortunate and has not had any holiday related calls such as Christmas tree or chimney fires during the past few years, but wants to remind residents to follow precautions.
"It's important to remind residents to check their fireplace before starting the first fire of the season." Starr said. "I recommend having your fireplace and chimney inspected annually. It should be properly vented and free of any obstructions."
Starr said the Southlake fire department provides more holiday tips on the fire safety page on the city of Southlake website.
Susan McFarland: 817-390-7984, @susanmcfarland1