FIRE SAFETY TIPS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE
Don’t let Christmas ever heat up too much — with fire that is. Did you know that Christmas trees alone result in 13 million dollars, annually, in property damage? More importantly, these fires present real risk towards family and friends. When showcasing a live tree in your home, the combination of tree dryness, electrical malfunction with lights and poorly located heating sources can make for a deadly combination.
BUT IF YOUR HOLIDAY IS JUST NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT A LIVE TREE, FOLLOW THESE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS TO KEEP THREATS AT BAY:
- Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, so look for a tree with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily from its branches. The tree shouldn’t be shedding its needles readily.
- Always place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and keep the tree base filled with water to avoid a dry out.
- Make sure all your indoor and outdoor Christmas lights have been tested in a lab by the UL or ETL/ITSNA for safety, and throw out any damaged lights.
- Any lights you use outdoors must be labeled suitable for exterior placement, and be sure to plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle.
- Keep all your holiday candles away from your Christmas tree, surrounding furniture and décor.
- Bedtime means lights off! Don’t forget to turn your Christmas tree lights off each night.
When your tree begins to drop its needles, it’s time to say goodbye to your evergreen foliage until next year. So this year, follow our guidelines to avoid being another statistic in the National Fire Protection Association or United States Fire Administration report during the upcoming holiday season.
Real tree not for you? How about an artificial tree?
If you want to skip the real tree this year and go artificial, you want to look for a tree that you can enjoy for years to come. Here are some tips for choosing the perfect faux Christmas tree.
- First, think of an artificial Christmas tree as an investment. Because you may be keeping the tree for 20 years or more, you may consider purchasing a high-quality artificial tree that has foliage resembling a real Christmas tree. This is often determined by the quantity of the branch tips and design of the foliage. In most cases, having more branch “tips” is preferred because an abundance of branches and needles creates a full look for the tree.
- Ensure the Christmas tree has the specific desired appearance. Look closely to see if you can see the center pole of the tree–if so, it may not be a high-quality tree (though trees with artificial trunks are often designed so that the trunk is visible).
- Choose a tree with a strong stand to ensure that your Christmas tree will not topple or lean to one side, even if heavy ornaments are added to the tree. Some tree stands come with rubber feet to protect your carpet or your wooden floors
- High end artificial Christmas trees have hinged branches, which simplify setup and allow for easy storage.
- If your artificial tree has been in storage, be sure to shake it out and dust it get rid of any detritus that might cause respiratory irritation.
Setting up your Christmas tree
The way you set up and care for your tree has a big effect on how long it will last, how beautiful it will stay, and, ultimately, how safe it will be to have in your home.
Once you've settled on that perfect tree for you, brought it home and set it in the perfect spot it's time to decorate and that means lights.
Lights and Decorations
- When hanging Christmas lights outdoors, reduce your risk of electric shock by passing up metal ladders in favor of ladders made of non-conductive materials like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.
- Only use lights and decorations in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.
- Before you begin decorating, verify how many strands of lights it is safe to connect end-to-end (as a general rule, it’s 3).
- Be careful not to overload extension cords. Before you start plugging in, find out the wattage rating of your extension cord, as well as the power requirements of any lights or decorations you’re planning to plug into it. A wattage rating is the amount of electricity that an extension cord is built to carry, and if the combined power requirements (or “pull”) of your lights and decorations exceed that rating, overheating and fire can occur.
- Every so often, check Christmas light wires to make sure that they’re not warm to the touch.
- Always turn off all Christmas lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.
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