According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an average of 100 Christmas tree-related fires per year from 2013-2015 resulting in 10 deaths. Additionally, there were 18,400 injuries associated with holiday decorating between November 2016 and January 2017. Here are some tips for keeping your holidays safe.
Trees and Decorations
- Make sure your live tree is fresh. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and they do not break when bent between your fingers. Keep trees well watered.
- For artificial trees, for the label: “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, the tree is more resistant to catching fire.
- Place trees away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, space heaters, vents, and radiators.
- Avoid sharp or breakable decorations, especially if there are children or animals in the home. Keep small decorations out of the reach of children who could swallow them.
- Never leave candles burning unattended. Extinguish all candles before leaving the room, even if only for a moment.
- Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface out of the reach of children and pets.
- Place lit candles away from flammable items such as trees, decorations, curtains, and furniture.
- Only use lights tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw away damaged sets.
- Do not use electric lights on a metallic tree.
- Check each extension cord to make sure it is rated for the intended use and is in good condition. Do not use cords with cuts or signs of fraying.
- Check outdoor lights for labels showing the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
- Whether a wood-burning or gas fireplace, make sure the flue is in the open position.
- Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. A flash fire may result because wrappings can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
- Do not dispose of Christmas trees or other decorations in the fireplace.
- Have working smoke alarms on every floor of the home, in every bedroom, and every hallway leading to sleeping areas. The early warning provided by smoke alarms saves lives.
- Test your smoke alarms every month to make sure they are working properly.
- If your alarm has batteries that can be changed, do so once a year.
- Replace alarms every ten years.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
- Carbon monoxide alarms should be placed on ever floor and in hallways leading to sleeping areas. They should also be placed in every room with a fuel-burning appliance such as gas oven or fireplace.
Sources: Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Fire Protection Associaion