Fire Safety During the Holidays
Tis the season to spread cheerful decorations around your house, to welcome guests and create that seasonal ambiance. At the heart of the display is often a Christmas tree - LED lights twinkling, and bows glinting with silver or gold.
If you are a fan of decorating a real tree, you need to be aware of Christmas tree safety, to make sure everyone can enjoy the sight and smell of that beautiful spruce, pine, or fur tree without any hazard. And if you have an artificial tree, there are still safety concerns to be aware of.
National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) advises that as you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart.
Here are 3 important safety tips.
1. Selecting your tree
Make sure you choose a tree with fresh green needles that do not fall off when touched. If your tree is going to be on display for several weeks, you want a fresh tree that is moist and therefore less combustible. It will also be more fragrant and easier to hang decorations on. If you are selecting an artificial tree, check the packaging and labeling for any specific warnings. The state of California for example, issued a safety label for artificial trees regarding chemicals and lead.
2. Placing and watering the tree
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk. This fresh cut will allow the tree to absorb water more easily to keep it from drying out. The NFPA recommends that the tree be positioned at least three feet away from any heat source, such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and make sure the tree is not blocking an exit. Remember to add water to the tree stand and top up the water daily. Keep artificial trees away from heat sources as well. Most artificial trees are treated with a flame retardant but they will still burn.
3. Lighting the tree
Check the label! Make sure your lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use. If you have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections, be sure to replace the string. It is also important to read the manufacturer's instructions for the maximum number of light strands to connect. Candles are a thing of the Victorian past and are extremely dangerous to put on a tree, so stick with modern indoor lights. If you have a pre-lit artificial tree, make sure all the wiring is in good condition and there are no exposed wires. When you leave home or go to bed, always turn off your lights or set them on a timer.
4. Discarding your tree
Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left up in the home or garage, or placed outside against your house. It’s important to check with your local authorities to find out how your community picks ups or recycles trees.
Did you know..
U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 200 home fires that have started with Christmas trees per year. Christmas tree fires cause an average of 6 deaths and 16 injuries per year and over $14.8 million in property damage.
A quarter of the Christmas tree fires were caused by a heat source being too close to the tree.
Any sort of wood burning fireplace or wood burning stove is a potential source of ignition because of sparks, or direct combustion if something falls into the open flame.
Dimplex units do not have an open flame and are therefore safe and family friendly as the heat source is completely contained in the product, not exposed in any way. But as recommended by the NFPA, keep your Christmas tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source to be safe. Even without a flame ignition source, the extra heat from a fireplace could cause the tree to dry out. Just follow fire-smart thinking so you can sit back and enjoy the electric flame effect, free from smoke, ash, or sparks!