Facts, Figures Tell Truth About Christmas Tree Fires

Statistics compiled between 2007 and 2011 pretty well apply to today when it comes to the importance of safety concerning Christmas tree fires. U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of six deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually. On average, one of every 40 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires. Electrical problems were factors in one-third of home Christmas tree structure fires. Two of every five home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

The Importance of Picking and Placing the Tree

If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. As far as placing the tree, before putting it into the stand, cut one to two inches from the base of the trunk. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit. Add water to the tree stand and add water daily.

Select Proper Lights and Use With Care

Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. 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. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

General Tips Concerning Christmas Trees

Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer. You can prevent most of the tree fires by following simple rules. First off, choose a recently cut, healthy tree. When you set the tree up to decorate it, make sure it’s stable in the stand and won’t tip over, and water it frequently. A 6-foot tree needs about 1 gallon of water every other day. When decorating, use lights rated for indoor use that don’t create heat (such as LED lights). And don’t overload your electrical outlet. If you want to power dozens of strands of lights and other electric decorations, plug them into different circuits around the house. If you continually blow a circuit, it’s probably overloaded. Don’t use electric lights on a metal tree. Unplug tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed. Keep the tree at least 3 feet. From candles and fireplaces. A new Christmas Tree Safety System by LifeKeeper is designed to detect low water in the tree stand and send a warning if a fire starts. Place the system’s low water detector in the tree stand. It’ll send an audio alert and trigger flashing lights on the attached heat sensor angel if the water level gets too low.