Holiday decorations can be a main contributing factor to house fires this time of year. The Missouri Insurance Information Service reminds folks that common sense can stave off a catastrophe.

Brent Butler with the Missouri Insurance Information Service make sure a live Christmas tree is fresh before you buy it. If the needles fall off when you shake it, you might want to keep looking.

Butler says putting a live tree in a sturdy stand and watering it daily will keep it secure and will make it less of a fire hazard. Another rule of keeping it moist and reducing the threat of accidental fires is turning off the ornamental lights when no one’s in the room. Butler says be sure to turn them off when you go to bed.

Finally, Butler warns agains using worn or rusted lights. He says it’s also a good idea to keep live Christmas trees away from candles, fireplaces, space heaters, electrical appliances and other heat sources that could ignite the tree or dry it out. And he says decorative lights can dry them out and ignite them quickly.

Candles — another holiday tradition — can be nice to look at but can be dangerous when unattended. Butler warns to keep candles away from open windows, drapes and other flammable materials.

Jessica Machetta reports [Mp3, 1:11 min.]