Decorating our homes around the holidays is a long-standing tradition in this and many other countries, but unfortunately, these same decorations may increase the chances of fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 390 home fires involving Christmas trees or holiday lights occur each year. Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles and Christmas trees from creating a tragedy.
If you choose to purchase an artificial tree, look for one that is fire resistant.
If you choose a real tree, ensure its fresh. A fresh tree will be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree, so when choosing your tree consider the following:
- Fresh trees have green needles that are hard to pull from the branches.
- When bent, fresh needles do not easily break.
- The bottom of the trunk of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
To keep your tree green longer, cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood and always keep the tree stand filled with water. Purchase your real tree shortly before Christmas to prevent the tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. In less than one minute a dry Christmas tree can become completely engulfed in flames. Watch an amazing demonstration produced by Underwriters Laboratories at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS8rFLq0NDE#t=34 comparing the difference between a healthy tree and a dry tree when introduced to fire.
When choosing a place for your tree, ensure it is away from fireplaces, radiators, candles and other heat sources. Place the tree where it will not block exits.
- Only use holiday lights that have been tested for safety. Look for a label from an independent testing laboratory on the box when purchasing lights.
- Never connect more than three standard size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Every year check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them prior to use.
- Before you go to bed or leave the house, turn off all decorations to include interior and exterior lights.
- Battery operated candles are a great alternative for use around holiday decorations.
- Never use lighted candles on or near a Christmas tree.
- Keep matches, lighters and candles out of reach of children and pets.
- Keep lighted candles away from holiday
When making paper decorations, look for materials with a ‘non-combustible’ or ‘flame resistant’ label. In homes with small children:
- Avoid decorations that are breakable or contain sharp edges.
- Avoid trimmings that look like candy or food.
- Keep decorations with small removable parts out of reach of children as they can be swallowed.