Each year fires occurring during the Christmas Holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage.
According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving tips, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
Preventing tree fires:
Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
Selecting a live tree:
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for your tree:
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent.
The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Do not put your live tree up to early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Disposing of your tree:
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory. Do not link more than three light strands, unless manufactures recommendations indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch. Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.
Use only nonflammable decorations. All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and place away from heat vents.
Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure that it is flame retardant.
Use Candles with Care:
Candles can be dangerous. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame – candles, lighters, or matches.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.
Have a safe and Merry Christmas from the Ada Fire Department.