(Facts courtesy of NFPA and FEMA’s US Fire Administration):
Fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires caused by Christmas trees each year from 2007-2011. The result was a yearly average of six deaths, 22 injuries and $18.3 million in property damage, the NFPA reported.
While Christmas trees and holiday lights are a great and beautiful tradition, it is important to be aware of some facts and follow some basic common sense tips when mixing a dying, flammable tree and heat and light sources:
-One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
-Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 31 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home structure fires.
-A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every four of Christmas tree fires.
-More than half (56 percent) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle.
-December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.
-Water your tree daily to prevent it from drying out.
-Check the manufacturer’s labels to ensure you use only lights and decorations that are flame-retardant. Look for a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories,Intertek or the Canadian Standards Association, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
-Check holiday lights for frayed wires or excessive wear.
-Don’t connect more than three strands of mini-string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
-Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, radiator, candles or lights.
-Make sure your tree is not blocking an exit. In case there is a fire, you want a way to get out.
-Always turn off lights on a tree before going to bed or leaving your home.
-Get rid of a tree when its needles start dropping. It means the tree is drying out.
–Check that your smoke alarm is working properly.