The holiday season is almost here and many people celebrate with trees and decorations which may cause fires. It is important to make sure your holiday celebrations are not destroyed by any mishaps. Sadly tree related fires are more common than people think. Each year tree fires cause devastating results, 40 fatalities, 250 injuries and $80 million in damages. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates between December 1st-14th there are an average of one Christmas tree fire per day.
That risk doubles to almost eight Christmas tree fires per day between December 15th-January 1st. Usually electrical light shorts and candles are the main cause of Christmas tree fires. Tree fires spread very quickly, in less than a minute; the entire tree can be engulfed with flames and start spreading to other parts of the room. Fires caused by open flame candles are another concern. Roughly 13,000 house fires are caused each year by candles, which result in nearly 200 deaths. These tragic incidents can be avoided. These tips can help make your holiday safe and happy.
- When buying an artificial tree, make sure the label says it is fire resistant.
- When buying a live tree, look for a fresh tree.
A fresh tree is green and the needles are hard to pull off. When you shake the tree on the ground, only a few needles should fall off. Check the bottom of the tree to make sure the tree has resin. Be sure to cut off a few inches of the tree’s trunk before setting it up. This helps to prevent the tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
- Be careful to set up the tree away from any heaters, fireplaces or other sources of heat. Do not put the tree in front of any doorways.
- Make sure the tree is secure and stable to prevent it from tipping or falling over.
- If you have a live tree, water it frequently.
Water keeps the tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. Cutting the tree’s trunk makes it easier for the tree to absorb water. A wet tree is a safe tree.
- Keep candles and other flammable materials away from the tree.
Tree Decorations & Holiday Decorations:
- Do not decorate the tree with any flammable or combustible materials.
- Keep fragile or sharp ornaments out of the reach of children.
- Avoid using any ornaments or decorations, which children might think are eatable.
- Avoid using tinsel or ribbons around small children.
- Make sure any tree lights have a UL listed tag.
- Do not use any light strings with broken sockets, loose connections or frayed wires.
- Replace any missing or broken light bulbs.
- Turn off the tree lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
- Never use an extension cord to hold more than three strands of lights.
- Keep poinsettias away from pets, as they can be poisonous.
- Keep fragile decorations out of the reach of children.
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Before lighting a fire, make sure the flue is open and the chimney has been cleaned.
- Remove all decorations on the fireplace mantel and decorations around the fireplace.
- Be sure to place a protective screen in front of the fire.
- Instruct children to stay away from the fire and do not leave children unattended near the fireplace.
- Do not burn wrapping paper.
- Remove any combustible or flammable materials near the fireplace.
Hanging Outside Holiday Lights Tips
Hanging lights outdoors can be dangerous. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission there are over 180,000 ladder related emergency room visits each year. There are also 150 deaths reported as a result of ladder accidents. It is always important to use a ladder and have another person to help you hang lights. Never hang lights if there is a strong wind or rain. Most ladders are metal and can conduct electricity. Follow these tips to safely hang outdoor lights.
- Check the label on the lights; make sure they are designated for outside use.
- Outside lights are usually only good for about 90 days, so discard outside lights after three seasons.
- Discard any light strings and extension cords if broken bulbs, frayed wires or loose connections.
- Check your ladder for any problems before using it.
- Make sure your ladder is on a firm stable surface.
- Only use your ladder for its designated purposes.
- Do not reach more than 12 inches off the ladder.
- Never move the ladder while still standing on it.
- Keep both feet on the ladder. When moving up and down the ladder be sure to face it at all time. Never step above the topmost-labeled step.