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Christmas is a time when many people deck the halls with Christmas trees adorned with festive, twinkling lights. Although beautiful to admire, overloaded lights and dried-out trees are a recipe for fire disaster. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), here are some scary facts:
- Fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees each year.
- One of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical failures.
- Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious.
- A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every five of the fires.
Let’s avoid the famous scene from the Griswold’s home in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and take the necessary steps to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe during the holiday season.
PICKING THE TREE
- Artificial Tree – make sure it’s labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
- Live Tree – choose a tree with fresh, green needles that don’t fall off when touched.
PLACING THE TREE
- Cut 2” from the base of the live tree trunk before placing it into the tree stand.
- Make sure the live or artificial tree is at least three feet away from any heat source such as a fireplace, radiator, candle, heat vents or lights, and not blocking an exit.
- Add water to live tree stand daily.
LIGHTING THE TREE
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
- Do not use more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed. Lights could short and start a fire.
- Get rid of the live tree when it begins dropping needles. Check with your local community to find a recycling program for your tree.
- Bring outdoor electrical lights inside to prevent hazards and extend the life of the lights.
Remember a small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly. Practice these tips to help keep you and your family safe during the holiday season.