According to the United Sates Fire Administration (USFA), each year fires occurring during the holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage. There are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following these precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty:
Preventing Holiday 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 Tree for the Holiday – Needles should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and 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 put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
- 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.
- Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree – Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame — candles, lighters or matches.
- Maintain Your Holiday Lights – Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the 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 Overload Electrical Outlets – Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires — they should not be warm to the touch.
- Use Only Nonflammable Decorations – All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed 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.
- Artificial Holiday Trees – If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
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.
I’m out of town at a funeral all week. I’m posting all kinds of tips for you to enjoy.