The holiday season is usually a happy season. However, if you take a short cut where safety is concerned, it could turn tragic.
One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. Reported Christmas tree fires result in a death, on average, once every 40 fires. Compare this to an average of one death for every 142 home structure fires not involving a Christmas tree. In order to help you have a fire-safe holiday season, please review these safety tips:
Make sure any heat source (radiators, stoves, heaters, fireplaces, and any open flames) is moved away from the tree. Approximately one in every six Christmas tree fires is caused by a heat source too close to a tree.
Don’t leave any lit candle unattended and keep them clear of flammable items. More than half of home candle fires occur when something flammable is too close to the candle. December is the peak time of year for home candle fires because of the added decorations that are too close to the flame and ignite.
If you have a real tree, be sure it has water 24/7. Dry and neglected trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches quickly ignite a dry tree. Well-watered trees are not a problem.
When decorating the inside or outside of your home or apartment keep matches and candles away from children.
Make sure to extinguish all open flames before leaving any room.
When opening gifts, place wrapping paper in a suitable container and dispose of properly. Don’t leave it near tree lights where it could catch fire.
Check decorative lights for frayed wires before using them.
Use only UL- (Underwriters Laboratory) or FM- (Factory Mutual) approved decorative lights. UL-approved holiday lights and decorations carry a red hologram tag for indoor use and a green hologram tag for outdoor use. Do not be fooled. Some items carry paper tags simply printed with “UL” but they are not approved.
Don’t run extension cords under rugs.
Don’t overload outlets or plugs.
Buy only fresh natural trees, making a cut in the fresh tree one inch from base, to allow water absorption.
Turn off tree lights when leaving home or before going to sleep.
Use wire or nylon cord to secure tree to a wall or ceiling, to keep children or pets from tipping it over.
Keep tree away from halls, stairs and exits.
Check and replace worn or damaged light sets or wires.
If the tree dries out, take it down and remove it from the building.
To avoid a chimney fire, never burn wrappings in a fireplace or wood stove.
Never use candles on any type of Christmas tree!
Don’t ‘light up’ or smoke near Christmas trees – natural or artificial.
All trees, even artificial trees marked ‘fireproof’ can burn under some circumstances.
Keep tree outdoors until ready to decorate.
Keep natural trees only two weeks, and dispose of properly. Check with your sanitation department for pickup procedures.
Do not use electric lights on metallic trees – they have a tendency to heat up to dangerous levels. Use only reflective lights that sit on the floor for metallic trees, and make sure to shut the lights off when you leave the house or go to bed.
Menorah and Kinara Safety
Make sure that you use a sturdy, fire-safe menorah or kinara.
Place the menorah/kinara on a steady table and make sure all combustibles are at least three feet from the candles’ flame.
Avoid placing the menorah/kinara in small, closed areas, such as closets or between bookshelves.
Keep the candles away from anything flammable.
Avoid putting your menorah/kinara in windows or near doorways. If they catch fire, your exit could be blocked.
Check the candles often to make sure they haven’t burned down too low. Never leave lit candles unattended.
Use common sense and if you think it could be unsafe, it probably is. Err on the side of safety, even if it is inconvenient. The March Fire Department wishes you all a safe and happy holiday season!