The happiest time of the year can quickly turn dark if our home is struck by fire.

During the holidays there is more cooking over the weeks of the season. Holiday decorations often include candles. We may use stand-alone room heaters during the cold nights. Christmas trees may call for extra electrical cords. All of these can be the cause of a fire. And a fire will certainly wreck anyone’s holiday.

Our local fire services can respond to an emergency in a matter of minutes, but it is best for homeowners to assure there is no emergency in the first place.

Every home, especially the kitchen, should have at least one fire extinguisher—these are relatively inexpensive and work well when used properly. Of course a fire extinguisher should not be an alternative to calling the local fire district.

Avoiding fires in the home is not just a holiday season goal. It should be in the DNA of the whole house and the people who live in it.

Assure that those cooking in the kitchen pay attention to items on and in the stove. There are many stories of kitchen fires that started with an unattended pot on top of the stove.

Outside the kitchen, candles add magic to holiday decorations, but using electric or battery-powered candles is the safer bet. When setting up the tree be sure that all the electrical wires are not frayed and are in good working order. The same holds true for those who use a room heater. Always err on the side of caution: if it looks dicey, get rid of it and invest in new electrical cords.

A little forethought and a little caution will go to a long way to make a safe and happy holiday season. But remember, in an emergency call 9-1-1.