Ready or not, the holiday season is here. In addition to celebrating with family and friends, many people celebrate by decorating their homes. However, along with this tradition comes an increase in the chance of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U. S. Fire Administration (USFA), approximately 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and 150 home fires involving holiday lights occur each year. So before we go out and try to recreate Clark Griswold’s lighting spectacle, let’s review a few holiday safety tips.
Once ignited, a “dry” natural Christmas tree can become engulfed in flames in seconds, quickly spreading the fire. If you choose a natural tree, remember:
- Pick a fresh tree with green needles that don’t fall off when touched.
- Cut approximately 2 inches off of the base of the trunk before placing it in the stand to allow the tree to better absorb water. Check the tree’s water daily and keep it watered.
- Keep heat sources (fireplaces, furnace vents, portable heaters, candles, etc.) at least 3 feet away from the tree.
- Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
- Turn off tree lights before going to bed or when you leave your home.
- Once Christmas is over, take the tree down and dispose of it promptly.
- Make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home.
- Always use lights that are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed. Look for the UL label.
- Only use lights specifically designed for outdoor use when decorating outside. Lights designed for indoor use only will not hold up to the weather.
- Inspect old strands of lights for worn or cracked insulation, cracked sockets, exposed wires, etc. Replace worn or damaged lights.
- Consider using smaller “mini” style lights. They burn cooler than the larger, older-style bulbs.
- Don’t overload electrical circuits. Typically no more than three strands of lights should be connected to each other. Follow the directions on the packaging.
You may also view our video “Holiday Safety Tips” for these tips and more. Give the gift of safety this holiday season! Please feel free to share any additional holiday safety tips here.