Fire or child safety is probably the last thing you want to worry about during the holidays. But the fact is when live Christmas trees catch fire, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 15 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death. And each year, hundreds of children choke on falling needles or have an allergic reaction to their live Christmas trees.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, between 2003 and 2006, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 240 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 16 deaths, 25 injuries and $13.1 million in direct property damage annually*. The U.S. Fire Administration provides video of a Christmas tree catching fire and engulfing the family room in less than 40 seconds.
Also remember if you have young children in the home or planning to visit during the holidays, they could suffer from allergies and develop respiratory problems from being around a live tree. Think about the needles that a live tree drops to the floor. Even the freshest trees will still have sharp needles falling. Young children may choke on these needles or, if you have a crawler, then they can be poked.
Instead of assuming any or all of these things won’t or couldn’t spoil your festivities, put your mind almost entirely at ease with an artificial tree. Artificial trees are fire retardant, allergen-free and you don’t have to worry about taking it down before it gets too dry – yet one more thing you don’t have to worry about around the holidays!
*Source: NFPA’s “Home Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Fires” by Marty Aherns, November 2007
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.
A safer option for your home might be an artificial tree, which doesn’t need the same supervision its live counterpart demands and usually comes equipped with fire retardant. And without the fear of your tree drying out, an electrical malfunction or heat induced fire is less likely to occur. 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 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 light switch 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.
*For more information please visit The American Christmas Tree Association Website*