The holiday season is traditionally a joyful time of the year, but Consumers Energy and the State Fire Marshal warn that it can also be a dangerous one if caution is not exercised with Christmas trees, holiday lighting, candles and cooking.

"We should all pause in the hectic rush of getting ready for the holidays to make sure we are preparing and decorating safely," said Acting Michigan State Fire Marshal Karen E. Towne.

In 2010, there were 151 candle-related fires reported in Michigan, resulting in eight injuries and two deaths, and more than $4.5 million in property loss.  Christmas trees and holiday decorations were involved in 21 reported fires, resulting in more than $400,000 in property loss and damage.

According to Towne, the risks for a fire in the home increase significantly during this time of year for a number of reasons.  Increased cooking, unattended candles and decorations and careless use of smoking materials make this a dangerous time for fires in the home.  However, if people practice fire safe behaviors and use a little common sense, home fires can be prevented.

To greatly enhance your chances of surviving a home fire, have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near sleeping areas.  Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year.  Have an escape plan showing two ways out of every room with a designated meeting place outside -- and PRACTICE it with your entire family.

According to the State Fire Marshal’s office, smoke alarms, batteries and carbon monoxide detectors don’t just make great stocking stuffers, they save lives.