Firefighters suggest Christmas tree safety tips
Reproduced from National Fire Protection Assoc.
In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 230 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees. Home Christmas tree fires caused an average of six civilian deaths, 22 civilian injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage per year.
Although these fires are not common, when they do occur, they are unusually likely to be serious. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.
The risk of fire is higher with natural trees than artificial ones. Researchers found that dry natural trees burned easily but trees that had been kept moist are unlikely to catch fire unintentionally.
Picking the tree
If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Placing the tree
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut one to two inches 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, but not both.
Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. 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.
As you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart. One in three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical failures. A heat source placed too close to the tree causes one in five of the fires. A small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly. A short video at http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/holidays/christmas-tree-fires compares the volatile nature of a dry tree fire compared to a properly watered one.
Go to http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information and click on Sparky the Firedog. Click on the “Fire Trucks” section and decide which important firefighting vehicle is not a truck at all. Send your answer to email@example.com for a chance to win a smoke detector and other prizes.
Happy Holidays from the Grand County Firefighters Association.
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