christmas tree fire Holiday Fire Safety

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, not one of filing a claim with your insurance company after a devastating fire which could have been avoided. Every year around this time, fires claim over 400 people, causes injury to more than 1,650 and causes over $990 million in damage. There are some simple steps you can take to avoid being one of those statistics this year.

Christmas Tree Fire Safety:

  1. When selecting a tree, be sure to choose one which is fresh. The tree’s needles should be green and difficult to pull off and its trunk should be sticky. Like you see in the movies and television, take the tree and bounce it on the ground a few times. If you notice a large number of needles coming off and it begins to look like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, put it down and choose another.
  2. Once you bring the tree home, place it away from any source of heat, such as a fireplace or heater. Both of those will cause the tree to dry out faster than normal.
  3. Don’t smoke near the tree.
  4. Avoid keeping your tree up for more than two weeks.
  5. Water, water, water. This is one of the most important factors in keeping your tree from drying out. Make sure the stand is always filled with water.
  6. When it’s time to discard your tree, don’t burn it. Have it recycled.

Holiday Lights Fire Safety:

  1. When it’s time to break out the box of lights, inspect them for frayed wires, broken lights or sockets.
  2. Never overload your electrical outlets. The maximum number of lights stranded together should be 3 sets. The string of lights should be connected to an extension cored before it’s plugged into an outlet. The wires should never be warm to the touch.
  3. Never leave your holiday lights on while they’re unattended.

Holiday Decoration Fire Safety:

  1. All holiday decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and away from any source of heat.
  2. Wrapping paper should never be placed in a fireplace. The burning of the paper will result in a large fire with dangerous sparks and embers which could travel and cause a major fire.
  3. If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it’s flame-retardant.

Candle Safety:

  1. If you decide to use lit candles, be sure they’re placed in a stable holder where they can’t be knocked over. Always blow them out before leaving the house.
  2. Never place a lit candle near a Christmas tree.

Most importantly, make sure all your smoke detectors are working and are equipped with a working battery.

The video below shows how quickly a dry, unwatered Christmas tree can become engulfed in flames compared to a tree regularly watered.

[Source: U.S. Fire Administration]


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