As you can see in the National Fire Protection Association’s video above, it takes seconds for your house to be engulfed in flames from a tiny spark on a dry Christmas tree. During the holidays, there are several things you can do to protect your family and your home from these horrible mishaps.
Rebecca Garber, a nurse practitioner with the Western States Burn Center at North Colorado Medical Center, provided the following tips from the NFPA to help you get through the holidays safe and sound.
- When you first bring your fresh tree home, cut 2 inches off the base before putting it into the tree stand.
- Put the tree at least 3 feet away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, candles, heat vents or lights.
- Add water to the tree stand every day and make sure the pine needles are not dry and falling off—needles should be easily bendable.
- Never block an exit with your Christmas tree.
- Lights should be tested by an independent testing lab and should have a label saying they have been tested.
- Choose indoor or outdoor lights appropriate for where you want to use them.
- Be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations on the maximum number of strands you can connect together.
- Replace any string of lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Always turn off the tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Get rid of the tree shortly after Christmas—dried out trees are a fire danger and should never be left in your house, garage or outside against your home.
- Bring outdoor lights inside after the holidays to reduce the potential hazard (and make the lights last longer).
General Holiday Tips
- If you like having lit candles, be cautious of them—keep them away from decorations, trees and children and pets.
- Test your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working as expected.
- Remind your family of the home fire escape plan.
- Never leave the stove unattended when you are cooking.
- Create a “kid-free zone” of about 3 feet around any fireplace or space heater.
The holidays are a wonderful time, so keep it that way with just a bit of precaution. A little time spent making sure everything is in order could save you from tragedy later.