Each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 Americans, injures 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage. Simple life-saving steps can be taken to ensure a safe holiday. By following the outlined precautions, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty:
Preventing Christmas Tree Fires
Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree will rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. The needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Bounce the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, it has 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. Heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful with cigarettes near a tree. Don’t 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. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
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 a tree is by taking it to a recycling center.
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. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory. Do not leave holiday lights on unattended-EVER!
Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. 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
This can cause a large fire, throwing off sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.
Avoid Using Lit Candles
If used, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning-EVER!
Finally, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home; test them monthly. Keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan. Always take great care when using alternative fuel heating sources.
A message from the
Queen Anne’s County Commissioners & The Department Of Emergency Services