Deck the Halls with Fire Safety
Well, Thanksgiving is behind us and holiday decoration season is officially in full swing. Nothing says “winter” quite like candles, strings of lights twinkling in the dark, a fire in the fireplace, and a decked out tree in the living room. But don’t let the smell of all that pine and cinnamon go to your head and cloud your judgment—make sure fire prevention is still in the back of your mind and you’re doing everything you can to keep yourself and your family safe over the holidays.
Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree…
How flammable are your branches? Let’s start with the most common holiday fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Christmas trees cause an average of 210 reported home structure fires per year. Those fires result in an average of seven civilian deaths, 19 civilian injuries, and upwards of $17.5 million in direct property damage.
We’ve put together a few tips for you to keep in mind while you’re picking out and decorating the perfect tree.
- Pick the right tree.
- If you can’t live without the real thing, make sure the needles are fresh and green, and that they don’t fall off when you touch the branches.
- For an artificial tree, check that it is labeled by the manufacturer as flame retardant.
- For a live tree, don’t forget to water it on a daily basis—that will keep it hydrated and less likely to catch fire.
- Use strings of lights instead of lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Place your tree at least three feet away from the fireplace, radiator, heat vents, candles, and any other source of heat. Also, don’t put it anywhere near an exit.
- Keep an eye on the lights you string around the tree. Connect no more than three strands at a time, and replace any string that has worn out cords or loose bulb connections.
- As sad as it always is to accept the fact that the holidays are over, disposing of your tree at the right time is crucial. When needles start dropping to the floor, that means it’s drying out and it is time to haul it to the curb. Don’t just stick it in the garage or basement and forget about it!
I’m Dreaming of a Safe Christmas…
The tree isn’t the only fire hazard around the holidays, though. So, when you’re pulling out the tubs of decorations and debating whether to invest in an inflatable snowman for the yard this year, consider these little reminders:
- Be careful with those candles. Whether you’re placing an advent wreath on the dining room table or filling the hearth with different sized pillar candles that smell like gingerbread, pay close attention to their surroundings. Make sure they’re nowhere near other decorations that may be flammable, or hanging fabric like curtains and blankets.
- When you’re hanging lights outside, especially if you’re going for a Griswold-esque display, use clips instead of nails to attach them to the outside of the house to prevent any splitting of the cords. And be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions about how many strands can be strung together, and whether they can be used inside, outside, or both.
- As lovely as all the lights and candles are in the dark, don’t ever leave the house or go to bed at night while the lights are still on and the candles are still lit.
- You remember the line “the stockings were hung by the chimney with care,” right? We’re going to assume the author was very concerned about fire safety—if stockings are a cherished tradition in your household, make sure they’re only hanging from the mantel when there is no fire in the fireplace and they’re far from any candles.
So go ahead and deck those halls and jingle your bells to your heart’s content, but don’t let fire safety fall to the wayside.
Happy holidays from Harrington Group!