Fire Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
The winter holidays are often a time of celebration; with family, food, and a variety of traditions. Enjoying meals together, decorating Christmas trees, and warming up together by the fire are just a few end of year favorites.
When you start preparing for for those family visits, lighting those new sweet-smelling candles from Bed Bath and Beyond, and putting on your favorite holiday music, keep these simple fire safety practices in mind to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Holiday Safety Tips
The most common house fires come from cooking, candles, electrical fires, …see the pattern? Every year during the holidays, hundreds of fires are reported due to Christmas trees, candles, and fireplaces. Most fires are preventable, if just a few simple safety measures are put in place.
So, as you bring out the candles, the bright lights, and wood for the fireplace, follow these holiday safety tips and enjoy a safer holiday season.
1) Use caution when putting up Christmas lights on your Christmas tree and around your home
- Always check whether your lights are instructed for indoor or outdoor use and keep cords dry and away from any moist surfaces. Improper use of indoor or outdoor lights can increase your risk of a fire incident.
- Use a wooden ladder instead of a metal ladder when stringing lights to prevent accidental electrical shock.
- Only plug outdoor Christmas lights into circuits protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
- Don’t use Christmas lights with worn, cracked or frayed cords.
- Stringing to many lights together can increase your risk of an electrical shock or fire. Likewise, do not overload your outlets when plugging in lights and other electrical decorations.
2) Keep flammable items away from cooktops, ovens, and candles
- Towels, curtains, holiday decorations and other flammable materials should remain at least 3 feet away from any hot or flammable source.
3) Use candleholders to properly secure candles before lighting the flame
- Keep candles out of reach of children.
- Candle holding devices can help secure candles to prevent accidents such as hot wax spills.
4) Never leave lights or candles on overnight
- This includes unplugging lights on your Christmas tree or other decorations around the house.
5) Check your fireplace to ensure it is clean before use.
- Using a fire screen will help protect you and your loved ones from the flames and ensure embers stay contained.
- Be sure to all flames are extinguished once you’re finished using the fireplace.
How to Prevent a Christmas Tree Fire
Whether you prefer a real tree or an artificial tree, there are Christmas tree safety tips to follow when getting ready this holiday season. According to NFPA, between 2015-2019, US fire departments responded to an average of 160 house fires per year that began due to Christmas trees!
Artificial Christmas Trees
Artificial trees are often made to be fire resistant. When shopping for your tree, check to see if the label indicates it is fire resistant. This may not prevent a fire from occurring, but it will help your tree resist burning and extinguish more easily.
If you’re hoping for a pre-lite artificial Christmas tree, make sure the tree has a seal for an approved safety testing laboratory. Replace any bulbs that are burnt out before plugging in your tree.
Even though many artificial trees can be fire resistant, you should still make sure your tree is set up away from any heat sources.
Real Christmas Trees
Nothing beats the smell of a real Christmas tree. To ensure your tree stays fresh and lasts all season, be sure to pick a tree with fresh green needles that do not easily come off when you touch them. Stay away from dry trees as they are a higher risk for catching fire.
Be sure to check the water level of your stand daily and ensure there is always water left. This will help prevent your tree from drying out to quickly.
Just like artificial trees, real trees should not be placed near any heat sources as this will greatly increase the risk of a fire.
How do Christmas trees catch fire?
Christmas trees can catch fire for several reasons including electrical causes such as decorations and heat sources that may be located to close to your tree.
If you purchased your real Christmas tree early in the season, you could be at an increased risk of your tree catching on fire. The longer your tree has been cut, the dryer it becomes, and your Christmas tree could show signs of dryness before the holiday season is over. Dry Christmas trees are more susceptible to heat sources or Christmas lights that could also cause electrical fires.
A fire can easily be avoided when proper holiday fire safety precautions are taken. So, be safe, follow these Christmas safety tips, and enjoy a wonderful holiday season with friends and family.