As the Christmas season approaches, many of us are decorating our homes, finalizing our wish lists and planning big meals. During this exciting time, however, we must not forget the holidays also bring an increased risk of home fires. When decorating your home this year, make safety a priority to ensure your holiday home is a safe home.
Fire is the primary concern with a live Christmas tree, which is often brought on by the combination of electrical malfunctions and a drying tree. To help cut the risk of tree fires, always purchase a freshly cut tree. A good test of a tree’s freshness is to hold a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull your hand toward you. If the tree is fresh, it should lose very few needles.
It’s also a good idea to bump the base of the trunk against the ground and see if an excessive amount of needles fall off. It’s normal for a tree to lose a few needles; however, a lot of falling needles could signal the tree is drying out and could soon become a fire hazard.
Once you get your tree home — and before you put it in a stand — consider cutting an inch or so off the bottom of the trunk. Sap can seal the base of pre-cut trees, hindering their ability to absorb water. Once the tree has a fresh cut, make sure to use a sturdy holder with wide-spread legs and ensure the stand’s water reservoir is large enough and kept full at all times.
When selecting a location for the tree, make sure it is not close to a heat source such as a radiator or furnace vent, which could cause it to dry out faster. If you are considering an artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Another concern with a live Christmas tree is the fire danger brought on by electrical malfunctions.
Make sure lights have a factory label which assure they have been safety tested. Inspect each string of lights for damage and position bulbs so they are not in contact with needles or ornaments. Don’t connect more than three sets of lights on the same extension cord and NEVER place lit candles on your tree.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends you take down a well-watered tree after four weeks.
Tree pick up dates are Jan. 5, 2017, for Hainerberg, Aukamm and Crestview housing areas; and Jan. 6, 2017, for Newman Village Housing. Residents are asked to please put trees outside the night prior to pick up.
December is also the peak time for home candle fires. In fact, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are among the top five days of the year for home candle fires. Candles are responsible for at least 71 percent of December home fires due to improper decorating practices or candles left unattended.