The holiday season is just around the corner! Christmas trees, along with their decorations and lights, play a big part during the joyous holiday season. Unfortunately, they don’t come without a fire risk. Christmas tree fires aren’t very common, but when they occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2013-2017, an average of 160 home fires per year started with Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage annually. What’s more, electrical failures and malfunctions account for almost two-thirds of the fires started by holiday lights. In addition, candles are about four times more likely to lead to a fire during the holiday season than any other time of the year. To help you prevent Christmas tree fires this holiday, keep in mind the following safety guidelines:
• Compared to real trees, artificial trees are more resistant to fires. So, choose an artificial tree if you want to be safer this holiday. But make sure to purchase a “flame resistant” type. This label doesn’t make the tree immune to fire, but if a fire occurs, it will burn slowly, giving you more time to extinguish it.
• If you opt for a real tree, look for fresh trees with green needles that do not fall off when touched. If your tree is about six feet tall, add about one gallon of water to the tree stand daily. That helps to improve its resistance to fire. Also, cut two inches from the base of the trunk before placing it in the stand. This allows the tree to better absorb water.
• Place your tree at least three feet away from heat sources such as space heaters, candles, and fireplaces. The tree should not block any exit, as well.
• Choose decorations that are flame retardant. Also, never use lit candles to decorate a Christmas tree! • When going to bed or leaving home, turn off the tree lights.
• Take your Christmas tree down after the holidays to minimize fire risks. Most trees start to dry out after one month, regardless of how much you water them. Also, since dried-out trees are a fire danger, don’t leave them in the home or garage, or placed outside against the house. To properly dispose of a natural tree, recycle it. Find a recycling program in your local community.
Holiday LED Lights
• Never use electric lights to decorate a metallic tree. If there are any faulty lights, the tree can become charged with electricity, which can cause a fire or electric shock.
• Make sure your indoor or outdoor lights are tested by a qualified testing laboratory, such as Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL).
• Always inspect your indoor and outdoor lights before putting them up. Check for frayed wiring, loose connections, cracked sockets, and broken bulbs. Throw away strands of lights that are too damaged to be salvaged.
• Never plug more than three standard-sized sets of lights into one extension cord. This prevents the cord from overheating and possibly starting a fire.
• Plug indoor lights into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) for increased safety. For outdoor lights, use UL-rated extension cords designed for outdoor use.
• Fasten outdoor lights to trees, gutters or other parts of the home securely. However, keep lights and decorations away from windows and doors to reduce the chance of damaging them. Also, never staple or use nails to hang lights — this can damage the wiring. Use roof clips or insulated staples instead.
• Take the lights down within 90 days to prevent them from being damaged by weather or chewed on by squirrels.
Other Fire Safety Tips
• Cooking — Unattended cooking is the main cause of kitchen fires. Always stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking. If a pan catches on fire, never pour water on it, as this may cause burning oil to splash and cause injuries.
• Candles — Use battery-operated candles instead of flame candles. If you use real candles, keep them in secure holders at least one foot away from anything else. Put out candle flames when leaving home or going to bed.
• Fireplaces — Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional. Place a protective screen around the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto flammable materials.
• Matches and lighters — Keep then away from children’s reach and sight.
• Smoking — Ask smokers to smoke outside and take smoking materials with them so that kids won’t touch them. Provide large ashtrays for smokers. We all remember the scene from Christmas Vacation!!
• Fire Extinguishers — Keep a fire extinguisher that is rated for all types of fires on all levels of the home. • Smoke Alarms — Make sure your smoke alarms are working and test them monthly. Replace batteries before and after the holiday season.
Even with all the proper measures in place, fires can still occur. When disaster strikes, call a professional restoration company, such as PuroClean of Dayton and Cincinnati. We can help restore your fire or smoke-damaged property to pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently. Our crews work 24/7 including on all holidays and weekends.