Hazards of Christmas Trees and Holiday Decorations: Tips to Keep Your Family Safe

For many people, the holiday season is a joyful time filled with rituals and festivities. Part of the yearly family tradition for some families is decorating their homes with Christmas trees, lights and candles. Part of the pleasure of the season is pulling out boxes filled with ornaments and creating a sparkling winter wonderland.

Like many situations that present a double-edged sword, it is difficult to grasp the thought that magical lights and decorations can also present a serious and even life-threatening danger. While we enjoy the holiday season and set the stage for merriment, some cautionary notes are critical to remember.

Christmas Tree Fires

Here are some important points from the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) “Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees” report (November 2015):

  • Between 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, one of every 31 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 38% of home Christmas tree fires.
  • Twenty-two percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
  • Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

Dangers of Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations may also contribute to fires in your home. According to the NFPA report:

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 860 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2009-2013. These fires caused an annual average of one civilian fire death, 41 civilian fire injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage.
  • Ten percent of decoration fires were intentional.
  • The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in nearly half (45%) of the fires.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. One out of six (17%) started in the living room, family room or den.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December.

Safety Tips for Christmas Trees and Holiday Lights

The NFPA notes that Christmas tree fires are not common. However, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. Here are some of the NFPA’s tips to keep your family, friends and guests safe during the holiday season:

Picking and placing the tree

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2″ from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas

  • Get rid of the tree after Christmas. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.
  • Check with your local community to find a recycling program.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

Fire Damage Restoration Bentonville, AR

Despite these efforts, fires can still occur during the holiday season. The impact can be doubly devastating when this time of year is supposed to be so bright. If you need help with fire damage restoration Bentonville, AR, contact NWA Restore It, Inc. today.

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