By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
Now that the outdoor decorations are in place, let’s look at a few indoor safety facts and tips.
It’s important to know these Winter holiday fires by the numbers:
- Between 2012-2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 170 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 4 deaths, 15 injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage annually.
- On average, one of every 45 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 139 total reported home fires.
- Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 43% of home Christmas tree fires.
- In one-quarter (27%) of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
- More than one-fifth (22%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
- Forty-two percent of reported home Christmas tree fires occurred in December and 33% were reported in January.
- Two of every five (40%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
How to keep you and your family safe:
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators.
- Heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water.
- Do not block doorways.
- Use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
- Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
- The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
- In homes with small children, take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations.
- Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children who could swallow or inhale small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace.
For additional Holiday safety information contact your local fire department
Happy Holidays and Be Safe!
*Note: The information in this article was compiled from various sources. These suggestions are not a complete list of every preventative or loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace additional safety manuals or the advice of another qualified professional(s). We make no guarantee of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.