With the Christmas holiday now just a few days away decorated trees are popping up in houses and businesses across the Midlands. As in years past Columbia Richland Fire wants to remind residents to exercise awareness and caution with their Christmas trees ESPECIALLY if they plan to put live trees inside their homes.
“A dried out tree inside your den or living room is nothing short of firewood if the tree catches fire,” said Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “The tree will burn hot and for a long period of time and that will QUICKLY cause other items around it to go up in flames. The end result is guaranteed extensive damages to your home and the high risk of injury to you and your family.”
“The chance of this happening can be greatly reduced simply by watering your Christmas tree regularly and keeping it away from all heating sources,” Jenkins added.
The NFPA has reported that from 2013 through 2017 fire departments across the U.S. responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. An additional 780 home fires each year began with decorations other than Christmas trees.
Preventing Tree Fires
Keeping your Christmas tree healthy and more flame-resistant begins with finding the greenest tree!
- Choose a tree with fresh green needles that do not fall off when touched!
Once you select your tree and bring it inside your home…
- Cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk before placing the tree in a stand
- Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source (i.e. heating vents, candles, radiators, fireplaces, etc.).
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
- Add water to the tree at least twice daily.
When you decorate the tree…
- Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights that are worn out or broken! Follow manufacturer’s guidelines on the maximum number of light strands to connect.
- NEVER use lit candles to decorate the tree!!
- Always turn off the tree lights before you go to bed or leave your home.
Quickly dispose of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Do not leave it inside or against the home!
Other Holiday Safety Tips
- Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. For added safety use battery powered candles instead.
- Blow out lit candles and turn off holiday lights when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
- Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
- Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
When entertaining guests…
- Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
- Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
- Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
- Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
- Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.