December 7, 2013

Christmas Tree Fire Statistics: How to Stay Safe

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Our visions of holiday gatherings usually include arrays of yummy food, twinkling lights, and colorful gifts. The idea of a Christmas tree up in flames is certainly not a part of the picture-perfect day we’re anticipating.

But it does happen. On average, there are about 240 Christmas tree fires and 150 fires from holiday and decorative lights, according to the U.S. Fire Administration and National Fire Protection Agency. While those are statistically low numbers in relation to how many people celebrate the holidays, the risk of hazard is much higher than other types of home fires. One out of every nine Christmas tree fires results in a death, according to the National Fire Protection Association. And the financial toll can be high, when you factor in the fire and water damage that results: the average loss is over $59,000.

Just once a year, we bring a tree into our house or string lights on our outdoor trees, creating a risk that unfortunately does result in some injuries and fatalities. For just a moment, keep in mind the following tips and precautions to help keep you and your family safe as you gear up for holiday festivities.

Six Ways to Stay Safe

  1. Keep an eye on all burning candles. Make sure they’re out of reach from children and sitting securely away from anything flammable. Never leave home with one burning, and consider using battery-operated candles instead.

  2. Check your decorative lights each year for damaged or worn wires, which create a risk for fire or electric shock. It’s best to throw them away instead of trying to fix them. Better yet, see if your local hardware store will take them as part of a recycling program

  3. Limit the number of light strands you connect based on the maximum wattage recommendation. Going beyond the recommendation can cause lights to overheat and catch on fire. Always turn the lights off before going to bed.

  4. Use nonflammable or flame-retardant decorations.

  5. Keep your Christmas tree away from any heat source, including fireplaces and heating vents.

  6. Water real trees daily to keep them from becoming dry, and check your tree daily for its freshness. A tree that has dried out from lack of water is a major risk.

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