Holiday Fire Safety
- Having a working smoke alarm reduces one's chance of dying in a fire by nearly a half
- Most holiday fires can be easily prevented
- There are an estimated 200 fires and 25 injuries resulting from Christmas tree fires each year
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 tree watered.
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 times.
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.
Holiday Lights Safety Tips
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 link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires, they should not be warm to the touch.
Holiday Decorations Safety Tips
- All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents
- Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame such as candles, lighters or matches
- If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant
- If you do use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down, never leave the house with candles burning
- Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire
Holiday Fire Safety Life-Saving Tips
Following these simple fire safety tips can increase your survival rate dramatically:
- Avoid using lit candles, if you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they can not be easily knocked over
- Do not leave lit holiday lights unattended
- Do not overload outlets, connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet
- Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including fireplace or heat vent, the heat will dry out the tree and cause it to more easily ignited by heat, flame, or sparks
- Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wire, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year; consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened
- Never leave the house with candles burning
- Never put Christmas tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove
- Only use UL-approved lighting
- When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly; the best way to dispose of your tree is to take it to a recycling center or have it collected by a community pick-up service