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Keyword: holiday lights

Use caution with candlesBaltimoreCountyFire DepartmentDivision Chief Michael Robinson

“Tis the season!” for celebrations, decorating, cooking shopping and all else related to sharing the joys and festivities of the holidays.   This is also a time when we see an increase in fires and related accidents.

In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) from late November through January we typically see a spike in fires caused by Christmas trees, candles, lights and holiday cooking.   Over the last decade, these holiday-related fires have resulted in more than $1 billion in residential property losses and more than 200 lives lost. 

Your Baltimore County Fire Department urges you to take a few moments and consider some simple steps to assure your safety during this special time of the year.  Here are the top 10 tips that fire safety experts recommend you consider:

1.      Water your tree. If you choose a live Christmas tree, assure its freshness by making a fresh cut on the base of the tree before putting your tree into a sturdy stand.  Keep the needles moist by watering frequently (at least daily).

2.      Check your lights (maybe twice).   Be sure to use only outdoor lights outside.  Inspect all lights for fraying, damage and wear.  If wires are visible through the insulation, discard and replace the lights.  Look for cracked sockets and loose connections; if you find them, replace the string.  Never plug more than three strands of lights together; this may cause heating and failure of the wires. Also, use only lights from an approved laboratory, and look for a label such as UL (Underwriter’s labs) or FM (Factory mutual).  If no label, replace the lights.

3.      Plan your fire escape. This is a good time to make sure that you have two exits out of each room and to plan what you would do in the event of fire.  Be sure that you have working smoke detectors on each level and in each sleeping area of your home.

4.      Sleep safe; have a carbon monoxide detector. A CO detector should be on each floor of your home. Under Baltimore County law, CO detectors are required in all rental properties and in some owner-occupied homes. Place these near sleeping areas and test them regularly.

5.      Be “flame aware.” Maintain at least 3 feet of clearance of any materials around a fire place. That includes hanging Christmas stockings “by the chimney with care!”  Also do not leave candles unattended and teach your children to keep away from these and fireplaces.

6.      Clean up your wrapping paper. After opening wrapped gifts, take that paper and recycle it. Never burn it, as it may clog the chimney or spread fire as an ash.  Single- stream recycling in Baltimore County makes proper disposal of wrapping paper an easy task. 

7.      Check extension cords. Make sure that they are laboratory-approved, just like your lights.  Never staple, tape or run them under rugs.  Check the wattage rating, and don’t overload your electrical outlets.  If a circuit trips or a fuse blows, consider that is a warning that you are overloaded. Overloaded circuits pose a fire hazard!

8.      Christmas tree placement. Set up your tree away from fireplaces, vents and other heat sources.  The tree should also not block pathways or exits from a room.

9.      Decorate safely. Be careful in selecting tree ornaments that are glass or that have small pieces that can become choking hazards. When securing decorations, be careful not to tape, staple or tack them into wiring!

10.   Cook with caution. We tend to cook more and use more burners and stoves at once.  Watch for hot surfaces, overflowing pots/pans and never use a turkey deep fryer indoors.  These require a clear, open, outdoor area and are a frequent cause of fires. 

There are a variety of great online resources about holiday fire safety, including resources from the U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Fire Protection Administration,

The Baltimore County Fire Department wishes you a happy and safe holiday season!

Baltimore County holiday eventsby Jordan Fish
Baltimore County Office of Tourism

Baltimore County is in the holiday spirit! Be sure to check our list of the many events and programs going on around the County during the month of December. From train gardens to choral shows to tree lightings – it’s the most wonderful time of the year in Baltimore County!


Holiday Train Garden at the Fire Museum of Maryland Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Kids of all ages will enjoy the rebuilt Holidays Train Garden at the Fire Museum of Maryland. Featuring the Bromo Seltzer Tower and a burning building, complete with fire engines and hoses crisscrossing the fire ground. Watch Antique O-Scale trains and a street car wind their way past Baltimore neighborhoods, the Zoo, Gwynn Oaks Amusement Park and the Viaduct.

Wine Country Christmas
Saturdays through December 22, 1-5 p.m. (free)

Boordy's Barn is the perfect setting for seasonal merry-making with traditional music, a tour of the winery, and steaming Wassail (a specialty from Boordy for over twenty-five years). A Wine tasting of six samples and a wineglass is available for $5. Wines may be purchased by the glass or bottle for enjoying in the barn with your friends. The wineshop will be brimming with gifts for hard to please wine lovers!

Saturday, December 1

Holiday Lights Community Open House at CCBC Catonsville 12-3 p.m. (free)

The CCBC Catonsville Foundation hosts a “Holiday Lights” community open house in the historic Hilton Mansion on the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County, 800 S. Rolling Road. The open house will offer activities for adults and children of all ages including face painting, craft stations, balloon art and a visit by Santa’s elves. Join us for tours of the Hilton Mansion, an early 20th century, Georgian-revival mansion farmhouse. Light refreshments with a seasonal flair will be served.

6th Annual Holiday Hoopla & Cookie Tour
4-7 p.m. (free)

This is the stuff happy holiday memories are made of. Come for the legendary Christmas Parade, Santa and Ms. Claus, the free cookie tour and Center Place transformed with lights and decorations – and hot cocoa all around!

Glyndon by Candlelight
4-8 p.m.

A self-guided tour of unique and varied houses in Baltimore County's First Historic District, decorated for the holidays. Limited tickets are available. Non-refundable ticket donation: $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Baltimore County Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
6-8 p.m. (free)

Baltimore County Tree Lighting at Olympic Park, near Towson Circle. Bring the entire
family for an evening of fun and festivities which include: Santa’s arrival by fire engine, Christmas tree lighting ceremony, opening of Santa’s Workshop at the old Hutzler’s on Towson Circle with reindeer, Beau & Tinsel. Receive reduced parking rates at the parking garage located at Nottingham Center, 502 Washington Avenue.

Sunday, December 2

Children’s Chorus of Maryland & School of Music present “Winter Joy” 3 p.m.

Children's Chorus of Maryland is pleased to be joined by special guests Leslie Margolis, flute, Eyal Bor, clarinet, Jacqueline Betz, violin, and Kenneth Whitley, cello as we present "Winter Joy." From Johannes Ockeghem to Irving Berlin, from a rousing Wassail to subtly nuanced jazz chords to soothing Handelian strains, celebrate with us as we hail the delights of the winter season. Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.

Friday, December 7

Holidays at Hampton December 7-9 (free)

Get into the holiday spirit early with "Holidays at Hampton" where the public can celebrate the season at Hampton National Historic Site. Visitors will experience 2 centuries of holiday traditions at Towson's only National Park - all of the festivities are free and open to the public. Special evening tours, carriage rides, period crafts, musical & dance performances, African-American storytelling and unique holiday shopping in the Museum Shop are just part of the revelries taking place during the "Holidays at Hampton" Yuletide weekend of Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 9, 2012. To commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, there will be a special emphasis on the fashion, music and dancing of "1812" during "Holidays at Hampton."

Fire & Ice at Night
6-9 p.m. (free)

View the ice sculptures located around Downtown Towson! There will also be street performers, and free roasted chestnuts and s’mores offered by area restaurants. Visit for a map of ice sculptures or just come to Downtown Towson!

Saturday, December 8

Breakfast with the Grinch 9 a.m.

For a memorable holiday breakfast, bring your kids to eat along with the holiday character, The Grinch. Souris’ Saloon, 537 York Road/Towson Circle. $5 Children $10 Adults

Holiday Movie & Santa's Workshop
9:30 – 11:30 a.m. (free)

Kids can shop for holiday gifts at Santa’s Workshop where gifts are priced from $1 to $2. At 10:30 am, enjoy watching The Grinch together. 1 E. Joppa Road/Towson Circle.

Benjamin Banneker Planetarium Show – “Christmas Story”
10 a.m. (free)

The Christmas Story displays the sky from Bethlehem around the time of Jesus’ birth and presents possibilities about what astronomical events could have been a Christmas star. D Building, D-003, CCBC Catonsville, 800 S. Rolling Road.

Music Forum at CCBC Essex – CCBC Chamber Singers 7:30 p.m. (free)

This select choral ensemble, under the direction of CCBC faculty member Monica Otal, will present diverse music of the holiday season, including excerpts from Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio. E Building Recital Hall, CCBC Essex, 7201 Rossville Blvd.

Friday, December 14

Street Performers 6-9 p.m. (free)

Enjoy a variety of street performers located throughout Downtown Towson as you shop for the holidays, eat and celebrate in one of the many locally owned restaurants!

Saturday, December 15

Breakfast with Frosty 9 a.m.

For a memorable holiday breakfast, bring your kids to eat along with Frosty the Snowman. Strapazza, 12 W. Allegheny Ave. $5 Children $10 Adults

Holiday Movie & Santa's Workshop
9:30 – 11:30 a.m. (free)

Kids can shop for holiday gifts at Santa’s Workshop where gifts are priced from $1 to $2. At 10:30 am, enjoy watching Frosty the Snowman together. 1 E. Joppa Road/Towson Circle.

Thursday, December 20

Men’s Shopping Night 5-8 p.m. (free)

Men, tonight is your shopping night! Locally owned shops in Downtown Towson will offer specials and promotions and help you select the perfect gifts. Souris’ will even wrap your gifts for free!


Revised April 6, 2016