‘Tis the season for safety
While decorating the Christmas tree each year is a beloved holiday tradition, it’s important to keep your family’s safety in mind when selecting the tree and plugging in the lights. In North Dakota, about 1,800 fires are recorded each year, while Minnesota responds to about 16,500 annually. Overall, holiday-related fires make up a small percentage of those statistics. Although uncommon, when holiday-related fires happen, they tend to cause serious injury and damage. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), from 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 230 Christmas tree fires on average annually. Unfortunately, each year, home Christmas tree fires cause an average of 22 injuries, six deaths and $18.3 million in property damage.
To avoid Christmas tree fire hazards this year, follow these tips from the NFPA:
Picking 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.
Placing the tree
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1″ – 2″ from the base of the trunk. Make sure the tree is at least 3 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. Be sure to add water daily.
Lighting the tree
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.
Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.