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Why the Moline Fire Department wants you to 'Keep the Wreath Red' this December

The "Keep the Wreath Red" campaign started in Illinois and now has spread nationwide, promoting fire safety during the winter months.

MOLINE, Ill. — Since the 1950s, Illinois firefighters have used a holiday wreath with red lights for their "Keep the Wreath Red" campaign. Since then, the program has stretched to fire departments across the nation, promoting fire safety during the winter months. 

"National Fire Protection Association statistics confirm that during the winter months, particularly around the holiday season, the number of structure fires increases," said Deputy Chief Kris Johnson with the Moline Fire Department.

For each department that participates across the nation, the wreath serves as a challenge to keep the lights on the wreath red. 

"If there's an actual structure fire we will replace one red light with a white light to symbolize one structure fire that was extinguished," said Deputy Chief Johnson.

Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 2, people are urged to check their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are in proper working order and replace batteries if needed. 

"We recommend that they replace their batteries at least once every six months, and test your detectors monthly," Johnson said.

Additionally, now that the temperatures are dropping, more people will use space heaters. 

"A lot of them have safety devices that if they tip over, they'll shut off, but a lot of older ones don't. So we want people to be conscious of those hazards and be careful," said Johnson.

Now is also a good time to work with your loved ones and plan escape routes and practice them. For homes that have fire extinguishers, take the time to check to make sure those are still pressurized or replace them if they are not. 

Johnson recommended that if it's been more than three years, replace it, unless it's the kind that can be tested by a professional. The kind of fire extinguishers that are generally available at big box stores are generally not re-testable and can be disposed of.

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