Keep the Holidays Safe from Fires and Burns This Season

The Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America and Swedish Medical Center want the community to stay safe this holiday season.

Keep the Holidays Safe from Fires and Burns This Season
Englewood, CO, December 18, 2020 --( Tis the season to be jolly...and safe. Though candles and decorative lights are essential to many holiday festivities, Dr. Benson Pulikkottil, medical director of Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, CO, wants to remind everyone that those open flames and decorations can also be dangerous. “No matter what holiday you’re celebrating this December,” he said, “remember to unplug the decorations and blow out any candles before leaving the house or going to bed.”

“Decorations should never stay plugged in for long periods of time. Lights and cords have the potential to overheat while overloaded outlets have the ability to catch on fire. Electric decorations should be given breaks from use in order to avoid these hazards.”

Dr. Pulikkottil recommends the following tips when using electric decorations this holiday:

- When hanging lights or working with electric decorations, only use a wooden or fiberglass ladder. Metal ladders can conduct electricity.
- Only use plastic hooks or clips to hang lights. Metal staples or nails can puncture wires and conduct electricity.
- Always follow manufacturer’s instructions, especially regarding the recommended number of light strings that can be connected together.
- Always make sure decorations are not damaged in any way before plugging them in.
- All electrical accessories – light sets, extension cords, decorations, etc. – should be certified as tested for safety by engineers at Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
- When decorating outside, only use lights and extension cords rated for outside use. These will bear a red UL holographic symbol, while indoor items have a green UL hologram.
- Not all decorative lights can be used indoors and outdoors interchangeably. Only use them in approved areas.

Candles hold an essential role in many religious holiday rituals and traditions. It’s important to be aware, however, that candles are also a leading cause of fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than a third of home decoration fires are caused by candles. But Dr. Pulikkottil believes that most of these fires can be prevented.

“The simplest way to avoid decoration fires is to clear the spaces around candles of all hanging and flammable decorations. You want to make it so that if the candle tips over or sparks, there is nothing around that will ignite,” he said.

Other candle safety tips include:

- Candles should be kept in a location where they cannot be touched, handled, or knocked over by children or animals.
- Never leave candles unattended for even short periods of time. Candles should be extinguished when you leave the room.
- Always use a candleholder. Candleholders should be very stable and not collect hot wax.
- Consider using electronic candles or wax warmers.
- Lastly, if you’re decorating a live Christmas tree this year, make sure that it isn’t blocking any exits and that it stays watered.

“Christmas trees should remain watered and the moment they start to turn brown or shed their needles, they should be thrown out,” said Dr. Pulikkottil. “If a dry tree or a dead tree catches fire, it can turn into an inferno in under 30 seconds.”

About Swedish Medical Center

Swedish Medical Center, part of HCA’s HealthONE, is located in the south metro Denver area where it has been a proud member of the community for more than 110 years. An acute care hospital with 408 licensed beds, annually Swedish cares for more than 200,000 patients with a team of approximately 2,000 dedicated employees, 300 volunteers and 1,400 physicians.

With stroke door to treatment times averaging just 20 minutes, Swedish serves as the Rocky Mountain Region’s referral center for the most advanced stroke treatment, and was the state’s first Joint Commission certified Comprehensive Stroke Center. Swedish also serves as the region’s neurotrauma and orthopedic trauma provider and is the south Denver metro area’s only level I trauma facility with a dedicated burn and reconstructive center. Over 150 facilities regularly transfer highly complex cases to Swedish.

Swedish Medical Center offers patients the highest quality care and the most advanced technologies and treatments in nearly every medical specialty including adult and pediatric emergency, heart care, neurology/neurosurgery, pregnancy and childbirth, orthopedics and joint replacement, cancer care, gastroenterology and liver care, gynecology and urology. Additional information about the hospital is available at

About The Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America

Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America is the largest network of burn care in the United States with 16 locations in 9 states, including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Each year, our centers treat more than 20 percent of the nation’s burn patients. To refer a patient, please call 855-863-9595 or use our burn app. For more information, visit our website at or visit our social media accounts on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Swedish Medical Center
Kara Hamersky
(303) 817-5708