Comparison of dry tree and properly maintained (high
moisture) tree fires
Holiday Fire Safety
Dry Tree vs. High Moisture Tree Fire
This dramatic clip illustrates what
happens when fire touches a dry tree and a properly
maintained, well-watered tree.
With the onset of the holiday season, it
is important to focus on fire safety and prevention. The
celebration of the season brings with it increased usage
of electric lights, decorations, candles, and the ever
popular Christmas tree, all of which can be potential
fire hazards. Additionally, cooking fires increase
during the holidays as families and friends gather to
celebrate. By following general fire safety precautions,
potential holiday fires, deaths, and injuries remain
What’s a traditional Christmas morning
scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your
household includes a natural tree in its festivities,
take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the
Christmas trees account for hundreds of
fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights
or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start
tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry
and neglected tree can be.
Selecting a Tree for the Holidays
Needles on fresh trees should be green
and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles
should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The
trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be
identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If
many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long
and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat
source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat
will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily
ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop
or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your
live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than
two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a
fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes
dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of
your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or
having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Thanksgiving Day fires in residential
structures cause more property damage and claim more
lives than residential structure fires on other days.
The increase is troubling as it applies mostly to
cooking fires in family homes. In 2005, cooking fires
were involved in roughly 1,300 reported home structure
fires on Thanksgiving – that’s almost three times the
It is easy to get wrapped up in
entertaining guests, but it is important to monitor meal
preparations since most cooking fires start when cooking
is left unattended.
Another of the recent culprits for the
increase of cooking fires during holidays is the turkey
fryer. Turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of
cooking oil at high temperatures, and many units
currently available for use pose a significant tipping
danger. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead
to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction
The following safe cooking tips can help
to make your holiday dinner safe and enjoyable:
Always use cooking equipment tested
and approved by a recognized testing facility.
Stay in the kitchen when you are
frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the
kitchen, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
Keep anything that can catch fire -
potholders, towels or curtains - away from your
Have a "kid-free zone" of at least 3
feet around the stove and areas where hot food or
drink is prepared or carried.
Wear short, close fitting or tightly
rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can
dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
Never use a wet oven mitt, as it
presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt
Always keep an oven mitt and lid
nearby when you're cooking. If a small grease fire
starts in a pan, put on an oven mitt and smother the
flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan.
Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until it
is completely cool.
If there is an oven fire, turn off
the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames
from burning you and your clothing. Have the oven
serviced before you use it again.
Maintain Your Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for
frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation,
broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or
wear before putting them up. Use only lighting
listed by an approved testing laboratory.
Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not leave holiday lights on
Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
Never Put Wrapping Paper in the
Artificial Christmas Trees
Avoid Using Lit Candles
Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
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