Christmas is just weeks away, and while this will be a holiday season for the record books, some traditions remain. Traditions like setting up and decorating the Christmas tree is one cherished by many. Christmas trees can bring instant holiday joy, but they can also be a fire hazard.
The NFPA reports that between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. And on average, one of every 52 reported home fire that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 135 total reported home fires.
What’s the main cause of these Christmas tree fires? Electrical distribution or lighting equipment as well as some type of heat source (such as a candle) being too close to the tree are the top culprits. Consider these ways to reduce your risk of a Christmas tree fire in your home.
Replace artificial trees to maintain fire retardant
Real trees are more dangerous when it comes to fire, but artificial trees are also vulnerable to fire. Depending on the age of the tree, even flame-resistant artificial trees can be a fire hazard as the flame retardant can wear off over time. Did you know that the average usable lifespan for an artificial Christmas tree is six years? Check the lifespan of your tree and adhere to those guidelines.
When purchasing a new artificial tree, only purchase trees that feature flame retardant compound.
Don’t leave lights plugged in
Most households keep their Christmas trees in their living rooms. When everyone goes to bed, guess what’s sitting unattended and plugged into the wall? Your Christmas tree lights! Just as you would flip off the kitchen light before bed, do the same to the tree. Even an artificial tree can catch fire as a result of tree lights.
Christmas lights can get hot, and in some instances, start fires. Even the popular LED lights can overheat.
Avoid using extension cords
Extension cords are not intended for long-term use. Using an extension cord to light your Christmas tree is not safe. Overusing extension cords can overheat cords and cause increased fire risk.
Overloading extension cords or outlets is another danger to watch for. Instead of using one or more extension cords, it’s best to use a power strip. Power strips are designed to support multiple appliances like strings of lights or Christmas decorations.
Other tips include using a protected GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) circuit and inspecting all cords on your Christmas tree lights and any power strips for physical signs of wear and tear.
Inspect pre-lit artificial trees each year
Pre-lit artificial trees can pose electrical shock hazards and fire risks from exposed wiring, wiring that is too short, or cords that aren’t completely plugged in.
The convenience of these trees is hard to beat. Pre-lit trees are great for a “leave it and forget it” approach to lighting your tree, but it can also be a major fire hazard. Year after year, the cords and wiring get worn just like any other electrical cord. The problem is that you can’t see the wires in the tree. Each year take a flashlight to your tree and inspect every inch of cord that you see. Any physical damage is a sign to discard of the tree.
Check water levels daily for real trees
Real trees pose a serious fire risk. They are not flame resistant and can go up in flames in seconds. One of the most common cause for real tree fires is a dried-out tree. Check water levels daily and provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
Keep in mind that buying your tree too early can also pose an added fire risk.
Fox Business reports “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a reminder to consumers to keep real trees hydrated in order to prevent any potential fires this season. The warning comes as an increasing number of consumers are purchasing trees earlier than normal, especially real evergreens that need to be watered.”
Fire Systems, Inc.
Fire Systems cares for you and your family and we want everyone to stay safe this holiday season. Each year, we share tips for holiday safety and point to the common holiday fire hazards that each household may experience. We are family-owned and family-operated. We’ve been in the fire protection industry for over three decades. Let us help you with your fire protection needs. From sprinkler to alarm, we do it all. Visit our website to find out more or call us today at 770-333-7979.