It’s the holiday season – a time known for trees and magnificent light displays. When decorating for the holidays, however, be sure to practice safe habits.
From 2007 to 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 230 structure fires that started with Christmas trees.
The fires may not be common, but they’re certainly serious. In one out of every 40 reported structure fires caused by Christmas trees there was at least one death. This is compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.
Many of these fires— at least one-third—involved electrical failures. Almost 20 percent of structure fires occurred because of a heat source was too close to the tree.
The National Fire Protection Association offers some important safety tips for both tree and light safety.
When buying a real tree, select one with fresh, green needles that don’t fall off when touched. Cut 1 to 2 inches from the base of the trunk, and make sure to add water to the tree stand daily.
For artificial trees, be sure it’s been certified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. When choosing a spot for the tree, make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, and not blocking an exit.
For lights, make sure to use lights that are labeled by an independent testing laboratory, and pay attention to whether the lights are for either indoor or outdoor use. When the light strings become worn or broken, replace them immediately. Never connect more than three strands of mini string sets or a maximum of 50 screw-in bulbs. When dealing with LED lights, read the manufacturers instructions on how many strands to connect.
For more information, visit the NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org. They also offer tips on how to stay safe when cooking, as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the second and third leading days for cooking fires. Read more on cooking fire safety at http://www.nfpa.org/holiday.