MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — As people across the Lowcountry decorate their homes with Christmas trees, string lights and candles, safety experts are sharing tips to prevent fires.

Experts from the American Red Cross said they respond to about 30% more home fires in South Carolina during the winter, with most home fires involving candles happening in the month of December.

“We don’t want this joyous season to become a nightmare for people,” said Brint Patrick, executive director for the Lowcountry chapter of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross reminds South Carolinians to first make sure no chords are frayed or broken when pulling decorations out from storage.

Experts encourage people to use candles wisely this season, and never step away from an open flame.

“We have to make sure we’ve got them out of the reach of kids, we’ve got them in a place where the dog’s tail doesn’t hit it, or it doesn’t get mixed up with the mail or whatever we have on the table,” Patrick said.

If you’re using an artificial tree, opt for one that is fire resistant, and never use electric lights on metallic trees.

On the other hand, if you’re getting a live tree, water it often. To check if your tree is fresh, the Red Cross suggests bending the needles up and down to make sure none fall off.

When hanging lights, don’t string too many strands together. The Red Cross said no more than three strands should be used per extension chord.

Plus, check to see if they’re meant to be used indoors or outdoors — especially during periods of heavy rainfall in the Lowcountry, Patrick said.

“Especially on our outside lights, making sure we’re using lights that are designed to be in the rain,” Patrick said. “We know it rains a lot here — it rained all night last night.”

While nothing beats a toasty fire in the winter, if you are using your fireplace, make sure stockings or other items on the mantle are kept far from the flame.

“It’d be bad enough if the chocolate in the stockings melted, but if the stockings caught on fire, we’d really have trouble,” Patrick said.

For more information on fire safety, as well as how to create a fire safety plan for your family, click here.