In addition to following the below holiday fire safety tips from USFA and NFPA, please make sure all your exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees, verify you have working smoke alarms, and learn what to do in case a fire starts in your home.
If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, make sure you keep the tree watered.
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.
Dry Tree vs. High Moisture Tree Fire – The following NFPA demonstration shows how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree watered regularly.
Selecting a Tree for the Holidays – Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably 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. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not 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.
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 before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets – Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.
Do not leave holiday lights on unattended!
Use Only Nonflammable Decorations – All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace – Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.
Never Leave a Burning Candle Unattended – Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.
If You Do Use Lit Candles – Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn. Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree – Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.
Download some more safety tips from our IT’S A DISASTER! book and please share this data with others.
We hope all of you have a safe and very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
And to our military, first responders and volunteers who work day in and day out to help keep us safe –- esp those of you separated from loved ones -– thank you for your continued service and sacrifices. Stay safe, B & j
It helped when you said to inspect lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, and gaps. My mom has taken her Christmas decorations and her lights are missing bulbs and bare spots. I will advise her to get new lights instead to prevent a fire.