A Few, Simple Precautions Can Make All the Difference
Christmas, a time for festivities and joy. Christmas, a time to celebrate the spirit of the season with family, friends food, and fun. Christmas, the most anticipated and dreamed about time by children all over the world.
However as delightful this time of year can be, it can also be the most dangerous. According to fire prevention experts, Christmas trees are the cause of at least 400 fires every year, several deaths, and upwards of $10 million in the damage and destruction of property, both personal and commercial.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “one of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.” Short circuited Christmas lights have been determined to be the major cause of these fires.
Christmas tree fires can be prevented by using the following tips:
- If buying a fresh Christmas tree, make sure it is truly fresh and has green needles. Recut the trunk 2” or more above the original cut to make sure it can pull water up into the needles. Check its water level daily to make sure that it doesn’t dry out. When the needles begin to turn brown and drop off, its time to dispose of the tree.
- If you have an artificial tree, check to make sure that it is flame retardant.
- Where you place your tree is important. It should be at least 3 feet away from sources of heat in your home like heating vents, fireplaces and candles. A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four of Christmas tree fires.
- Carefully inspect and test all your electrical lights, both indoor and outdoor and do not use any that have wiring that is frayed or otherwise damaged. Check to make sure that your lights have the label of an independent testing laboratory, and don’t place the wires where someone can trip over them.
- Make sure that your electrical system is not overloaded. Do not link more than 3 strands together unless directions state that it is safe. Also turn off all lights and electric decorations before you go to bed at night.
- Take care with your use of candles. Do not place them near your tree or other materials that could catch fire, and make sure that children do not have access to candles, matches or lighters. Consider using realistic electric candles if you have young kids or pets in your home.
- Don’t hang your Christmas stockings near a fireplace where they could catch fire.
- Use a fireplace screen, and to prevent flying sparks, do not burn materials like evergreens or gift wraps in the fireplace. Be sure to check your flue is open!
- When cooking, do not be distracted and leave the stove or an outdoor deep fryer unattended, even for a second.
- Do not use water on a grease fire. Instead, have an all purpose fire extinguisher on hand (class K).
- Have a fire evacuation plan for you family and practice it before the holidays. Keep your exits clear. Don’t place decorations that will block your doors or windows.