The holiday season is upon us! Have you decorated your home for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa already or are you waiting till after Thanksgiving is done? Whenever you decorate, there’s something important to keep in mind - fire safety. We don’t tend to think much about the fire hazards of holiday lights or candles being too close to trees, but there’s a lot of which you should be aware. Take a look at this list and keep your family safe & sound this holiday season.
Let’s start with the stats:
Between 2013-2017, fire departments across the U.S. responded to approximately 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees. One out of every 52 of these fires resulted in a death, along with 15 injuries, and $10 million in property damage.
One out of every four Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
Two out of every five Christmas tree fires starts in the living room.
In the same time frame, fire departments across the U.S. responded to approximately 780 fires that started with decorations. These fires caused an average of 3 deaths, 34 injuries, and $12 million in property damage.
21% of decoration fires start in the kitchen.
The top 3 days for home candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Now that you know the facts, what can you do to prevent any of these tragedies occurring during your holidays? Well, when it comes to decorations follow these rules for optimal safety:
1. If you’re planning on putting up outdoor decorations, be sure the lights you’re using are rated for outdoor use as using indoor lights outdoors can result in electric shock and fire hazards. Not sure whether the lights you want to use are indoor or outdoor rated? Check the color-coded UL mark on the package - green means indoor, red means it’s safe for both indoor AND outdoor.
2. Never use staples or nails to put up your lights as they can damage the wire insulation. Use clips instead!
3. When the holidays are over, bring your outdoor lights back inside. This reduces fire hazards and extends their life.
4. Don’t start putting lights up without verifying how many strands are safe to connect end-to-end (generally it’s 3).
5. Occasionally check light wires to make sure they aren’t warm to the touch.
6. Don’t overload extension cords!
7. Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
8. Finally, turn off lights & decorations before leaving your home or going to bed.
Since Christmas trees are one of the bigger holiday fire safety dangers, definitely follow these rules to avoid the risks.
1. If you’re purchasing a live Christmas tree, check for the following: 1) needs are fresh & green, 2) needles aren’t falling off, and 3) the trunk’s cut surface is sticky to the touch.
2. Once your live tree is home, cut a couple of inches off the bottom of the trunk. These exposes fresher wood and makes it easier for the tree to absorb water.
3. Speaking of water, water live trees DAILY.
4. Position the tree so it’s near an outlet (to avoid cords crossing the room) and so it’s NOT blocking any exits.
5. Also position your tree at least 3 feet away from candles, space heaters, fireplaces, radiators - basically anything that is heat or flame causing.
6. Make sure to use a tree stand designed to not tip over.
7. Going artificial this season? Be sure it’s flame retardant.
Lastly, we come to the most obvious holiday fire hazard - CANDLES. Here’s what not to do this season when it comes to your fiery decorations.
1. Don’t leave candles burning unattended.
2. Keep candles high up and out of reach of pets & children.
3. Don’t put candles on your tree as decorations. Please.
4. Don’t move burning candles. Blow them out first.
5. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from decorations (tinsel, paper cut-outs, etc).
6. Put candles on a study, uncluttered surface.
7. Don’t burn candles all the way down.
There you have it! Now you’re ready for a safer & happier holiday season.
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