Holiday Fire Safety
Although fires related to Christmas trees and holiday decorations remain relatively uncommon, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious and cause injuries and deaths. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), on average one of every 40 reported home fires that begin with a Christmas tree resulted in a death. This is compared to an average of just one death per 142 total reported home fires. Furthermore, electrical problems were factors in the one-third of structure fires that involved a Christmas tree or holiday decoration. Nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays nationally, claiming more than 500 lives, causing 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in damages, according to the US Fire Administration. As you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart. Follow some simple, common sense fire safety tips to decrease the chances of fire in your home during this wonderful time of year.
- Avoid using lit candles and NEVER use candles to decorate a tree. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked over.
- Never leave the house with candles burning
- Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wire, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear.
- Use only lighting evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Do not connect more than three strands of mini holiday light sets, or more than 50 bulbs for the screw-in light sets.
- Do not leave holiday lights unattended. Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
- Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces and portable heaters.
- Ensure you have working smoke alarms near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with the doors closed.
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk.
- Add water to the tree stand and be sure to add water daily. Initially, a freshly cut tree may soak up to a gallon a day.
- Get rid of the tree after the holidays or when it is dry. Dried out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage.
For more information, please contact District Chief Sergio Pellecer at Fire Station 1 Fire Prevention Bureau Office at (954) 342-4262 or by email at Sergio_pellecer@sheriff.org