‘Tis the season to water your Christmas tree daily and use caution with candles and electric lights to keep this joyous time of year safe.
“Dried out, live trees are a fire danger. Always choose a fresh tree, keep it watered daily and keep it away from any heat source such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, or heat vents,” according to Firefighter Michael McLeieer, President of the non-profit fire safety charity E.S.C.A.P.E. “If using an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled ‘flame-retardant,’ which indicates the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, one of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems and one in six are caused by a heat source too close to the tree. Statistics show that Christmas tree fires are much more likely to cause death than average home fires and the risk of fire is higher with natural trees than artificial ones.
When buying a live tree, McLeieer said to make sure it’s as fresh as possible. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Needles should be green and hard to pull from the branches. Bounce the tree on the ground; if many needles fall off, it’s probably a dried-out, old tree that can be a fire hazard.
Once the tree is home, make a fresh cut of 1-2” at the base of the trunk to allow it to absorb water. Place the tree in a non-tip style holder with wide feet. Use only holiday lights that have been approved by a testing agency such as the Underwriters Laboratories and have a UL-tested label on them. LED lights are cooler and use less electricity than conventional lights.
“December is also the peak time of year for home candle fires,” said McLeieer. “More than half (56 percent), of such fires occur when candles are too close to anything that can catch on fire. Never use lighted candles on the tree. Keep candles up high enough away from children and pets and never leave home or go to bed with holiday lights on or candles lit. Use battery operated, flameless candles instead.”
Give the Gift of Safety: Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives
“Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. More than one-third (38 percent) of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarms are present,” according to McLeieer.
This is a great time of year to give the gift of safety and replace smoke alarms over 10 years old with new alarms. Make sure smoke alarms are tested monthly and create and practice a home fire escape plan with everyone in the home to stay safe well beyond the holiday season.