With the holiday season upon us, many of our homes are decorated to the nines. There are garlands and pine bows over doorframes, lights in the windows, candles on tables, and trees dripping with lights. It’s all very glittery and beautiful, but with all of the impressive decorations there comes the risk of fire.
Holiday decorations are the source of hundreds of house fires yearly, starting with everyone’s favorite centerpiece: the Christmas tree.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas tree fires account for over 200 fires responded to each year. One in every thirty-one of these fires proves to be deadly to one or more residents of the home.
Dry trees can be a major fuel source for a fire and can burn faster than newspaper, but it’s not all bad news. We have plenty of suggestions to help you prevent this from happening so you and your beautiful, decorative evergreen can live in harmony until it’s time for you to go your separate ways. (For some of us this means the end of January, but we’re not pointing any fingers).
Electrical failures and malfunctions from decorations and power sources for these decorations are the cause of 30% of Christmas tree fires.
String lights are a major culprit for causing the sparks or heat that can lead to a fire on your tree. Oftentimes, strings of incandescent lights that are used year after year can be broken or damaged, leading to vulnerabilities and weaknesses that can cause excessive heat or sparking. This heat and sparking can result in your tree bursting into flames and burning at a high rate of speed.
There are some ways to mitigate the risks with incandescent string lights, however. Some of these methods are as follows:
- Make sure your string lights are sound with no cuts or twists and no exposed wires.
- Check all bulbs on your incandescent lights to make sure that none are broken.
- Do not splice extension cords.
- Turn decorative lights off when you leave your home or go to bed. You should never sleep with your decorative lights on!
- Use LED lights: LED lights use up to 75% less energy than incandescent lights and don’t generate heat or burn out in the same way that incandescents to. Instead they slowly fade over time. They are also ordinarily plastic and much more difficult to break than glass incandescent bulbs. — While LED lights usually come with a higher price-tag, their saved energy and durability make them an excellent alternative to the riskier incandescent lights.
There are also some means to maintain your tree to lessen the likelihood that it will burn if an accident does occur.
- A dry tree is a dangerous tree. While it’s safer to buy an artificial tree, we realize this isn’t how the traditions of many families work. When buying a Christmas tree, the best place to start is getting a tree that is fresh. Then it’s important to ask the attendants to freshen the cut at the base of your tree’s trunk. This is so it’s able to draw water. Much like any other decorative plant that is kept in water, it must be able to draw the water provided or it will die.
- Keep your tree in fresh water daily! If your tree’s water level drops below the cut end of the tree, the cut will seal and not accept any more water. Be meticulous! If this happens, make sure you freshen the bottom again by cutting off the end. This will help keep your tree from drying out and becoming more of a fire hazard.
- Keep your tree a minimum of 3 feet away from any heat source. This includes, but is not limited to: baseboard heaters, candles, lamps, or space heaters.
As dangerous as trees can be, they’re also not the only source of fires during the holidays. The worst culprit in this regard is the candle. Candle use is at an all-time high during the holidays, and December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.
Because they hold open flames, candles are inherently dangerous. Make sure to keep candles at least 3 feet away from any flammable surface or object, and be vigilant! Be extra careful to not forget to blow out any candles that may be burning before you leave the house or go to sleep. 1/3 of all candle fires start in the bedroom, so be sure to put them out before settling in.
The holidays can be a wonderful time of the year, and the decorations are beautiful! It’s easy to get caught up in all the wonder, but always remember to be careful and keep your safety in mind.
We at Schmidt Property Management wish everyone a wonderful (and safe!) holiday season and we will see you again in 2018!