Christmas Tree Safety Tips

(See video below showing how fast a dry tree can ignite)

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and the countdown for Christmas has officially begun, although retailers have been counting down since the end of September. We are officially 25 days away from the big day and that means it’s time to get out and find yourself that perfect Christmas tree. For most people, decorating the Christmas tree is their favorite part of the holiday. Although fun and decorative, natural and artificial Christmas trees start an average of 250 structure fires each year according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause approximately 14 deaths, 26 injuries and $13.8 million in property damage yearly.

With this being said, the National Safety Council offers some Christmas tree safety tips to make sure a mishap doesn’t spoil your holiday season.

Christmas Trees

  • Try to select a fresh tree by looking for one that is green. The needles of pines and spruces should bend and not break and should be hard to pull off the branches. On fir species, a needle pulled from a fresh tree will snap when bent, much like a fresh carrot. Also, look for a trunk sticky with sap.
  • Cut off about two inches of the trunk and put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep the stand filled with water so the tree does not dry out quickly.
  • Stand your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Make sure the tree does not block foot traffic or doorways.
  • If you use an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Line-voltage holiday or decorative lights start an average of 170 home structure fires each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause approximately 7 deaths, 17 injuries and $7.9 million in property damage yearly.
  • Keep natural trees watered!

Tree lights

  • Only use indoor lights indoors (and outdoor lights only outdoors). Look for the UL label. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets.
  • Also, use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards, but do not run cords under rugs.
  • Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.

Tree ornaments

  • Always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places.
  • Read labels before you use materials that come in jars, cans and spray cans.
  • Never place lighted candles on a tree or near any flammable materials.
  • Avoid placing breakable tree ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower branches where small children or pets can reach them.
  • Do not hang popcorn chains and candy canes on the tree when small children are present. They may think that other tree ornaments are also edible.

Take these Christmas tree safety tips very seriously. Check out how fast this dry tree burns:

30 seconds might be too late!

(CYA disclaimer: Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. I don’t assume responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of this information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances!)

JK

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About Jim Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management Broker

Jim is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the ISU - Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage in Torrance, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Long Beach, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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  1. 2010 Blog In Review « Small Business Insurance Advisor - January 3, 2011

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