Be fire smart as you decorate your homes and entertain this holiday season. The holidays are a peak time for home fires caused by Christmas tree and candle fires.
“Christmas tree fires can turn deadly within seconds, allowing you little time to escape a potentially deadly fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one quarter of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every four of the fires,” said State Fire Marshal Julie Secontine.
Some tips that you should follow if you put up a tree this holiday season are:
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Prior to placing the tree in a stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet from any heat source like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
- Make sure that the tree is not blocking an exit.
- Add water to the tree stand daily.
- Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory and that you distinguish between indoor and outdoor lights.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturers’ instructions for number of light strands to connect.
- NEVER USE LIT CANDLES TO DECORATE YOUR TREE.
- Always turn off tree lights when going to bed or leaving your home.
- Don’t overload your electrical socket.
- Discard your tree when it is dry in an outside location and find a tree recycling program in your community.
December is also the peak time of year for home candle fires, people fall asleep or leave home with unattended candles left burning. Keep candleswell away from the tree and away from anything that can catch fire, such as decorations, curtains and furniture — and up high enough away from children and pets. Use battery operated, flameless candles instead.
“Be sure your smoke alarms are in working order, have a fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it,” Secontine said. “Have a prepared and practiced home escape plan that will help insure your survival in a home fire.”
A live Christmas tree burn conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows just how quickly a dried out Christmas tree fire burns, with flashover occurring in less than one minute, as compared to a tree watered regularly. Watch the video to see how Christmas tree fires can turn devastating and deadly within seconds.