‘Tis the season for lighting candles, tree trimming, and getting into the holiday spirit as Chanukah and Christmas draw near. But with all the “fa-la-la-la-la” also come holiday fire safety hazards that property owners and tenants need to keep in mind. Here are some stats to consider from the National Fire Protection Agency:
- While not common, Christmas tree fires when they do happen are more likely to be quite serious. One in every 31 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported fires.
- One in every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
- A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four of Christmas tree fires.
- 7% of home Christmas tree fires were started by candles.
- The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months.
What can you do keep the holiday spirit high and safe? Here are some fire-prevention tips:
Holiday Fire Safety Tips
- Never leave a burning candle unattended. This may seem obvious, but if you leave the room, blow out the candles. This goes for menorah candles as well.
- Think about using battery-operated flame-less candles that look and smell like the real thing.
- If you have a natural Christmas tree in your home, keep it clear from any heat source, such as fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles. Keep in mind that it takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames, according to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology.
- Natural trees should be cut at a 45-degree angle at the base and placed in the water. Water the tree daily so it doesn’t dry out. If the tree does become dry, discard it.
- Use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations on the tree as well as anywhere else in and outside the home.
- Lighting on the tree should be UL-approved. Check Christmas lights for frayed wiring or excessive wear and tear. Do not link more than three strands of lights.
- Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.
- Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers.
- Check smoke alarms to make sure they are operating correctly. Use the test button to check them each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
Put these fire-prevention tips into practice – and enjoy this holiday season with friends and family.