This holiday season, Christmas tree fires have destroyed homes from California to Florida, Illinois to Arizona, and every place in between, turning the most wonderful time of the year into a nightmare for some families.
Christmas tree fires are not uncommon, but they are preventable. This time of year, fire departments from coast to coast are urging those who celebrate Christmas to be mindful of safety when putting up their tree.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there are 10 steps you can take to avoid an accidental Christmas tree fire this year.
- When choosing a real Christmas tree, select one that has fresh, green needles and pliant branches that do not shed when touched or bumped.
- Cut two inches from the base of the tree before placing it in a tree stand. This will help the tree to absorb the water.
- Be sure to place the tree at least three feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, radiator, candles, heat vents, and lights. Placing a tree too close to a heat source causes roughly one in every four Christmas tree fires.
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
- Keep the tree hydrated by filling the tree stand with plenty of fresh water daily.
- When decorating the tree, use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are made strictly for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect and do not overload circuits. One in three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- After Christmas, do not leave the tree in the home or garage or place it against the home. Trees can easily catch on fire when they become dry and brittle.