It’s that time of the year once again. Every year, millions of Americans venture out and purchase a real Christmas tree. It is a time-honored family tradition that continues to this very day in modern-day America. With this tradition also comes the responsibility of taking care of a real tree.
Many forget that if not properly cared for, you have a tremendously dangerous fire hazard sitting in your home. According to the NFPA, between 2007-2011, fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires caused by Christmas trees each year. The result was a yearly average of six deaths, 22 injuries and $18.3 million in property damage.
Here is a list of holiday fire safety tips from NFPA and FEMA’s U.S. Fire Administration:
- When choosing a tree, look for one that is fresh and has green needles that don’t fall out. Brownish needles mean the tree is dried out and more prone to catch fire.
- Water your tree daily to prevent it from drying out.
- Check the manufacturer’s labels to ensure you use only lights and decorations that are flame-retardant. Look for a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek or the Canadian Standards Association, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Check holiday lights for frayed wires or excessive wear.
- Don’t connect more than three strands of mini-string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
- Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, radiator, candles or lights.
- Make sure your tree is not blocking an exit. In case there is a fire, you want a way to get out.
- Always turn off lights on a tree before going to bed or leaving your home.
- Get rid of a tree when its needles start dropping. It means the tree is drying out.
- Check that your smoke alarm is working properly.
Source: NFPA and FEMA’s U.S. Fire Administration