In the city of Houston, smoke detectors are required in every apartment bedroom by the end of the year. Those detectors are an important line of defense in situations that can happen at this time of year, such as a northwest Houston apartment fire last December that was started by Christmas lights.
The Houston Fire Department responded to nearly 200 residential fires in December 2010, resulting in more than $4 million in damage. The danger goes up because of all the popular items we use at this time of year.
Firefighters urge residents to keep candles away from decorations, and make sure not to run cords under rugs or carpets. Space heaters should be kept at least three feet away from anything flammable, including walls. Check your smoke detectors at least once a month.
"When it does sound, it should be loud enough that it hurts your ears, especially when you're testing it, because the purpose of a smoke alarm is not just to alert you, but to wake you, " recommended Ron Harrison with the Houston Fire Department.
You should hear a strong, loud noise from smoke detectors, and change the batteries twice a year.