‘Tis the season to be jolly, and as per tradition, you may have already noticed the gradual glowing of your immediate surroundings. Homes, offices and commercial establishments may have begun decking their halls with more than just boughs of holly, and we’re guessing you yourself may be doing the same. Before you haul that new Christmas tree in or hang a bunch of running lights by your window, though, bear in mind that these very same decors can increase the risk of fires.
According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 holiday lights-related home fires occur every year. All in all, these result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage. Keep your home and family members safe this Christmas by taking note of these safety tips.
CHRISTMAS TREE CARE
Does your household have a natural tree included in this year’s festivities? If so, then remember this very important note: Keep the tree watered.
Yearly, Christmas trees account for a lot of fires because typically, electrical shorts or open flames from candles, lighters or matches can start tree fires. While well-watered trees aren’t a problem, a dry and neglected tree can be. Also keep in mind that when selecting trees, needles that are green and hard to pull back from the branches should be taken into consideration. If the tree has been freshly cut, make sure that the needles do not break, and its trunk should be sticky to the touch. To test if the tree is old, bounce the tree trunk on the ground. If a lot of needles fall off, it means that the tree has been cut for too long and dried out, and could be a fire hazard.
When put on display, be careful not to put your tree near a heat source because it will dry the tree out and cause it to be more easily ignited. It also helps to take note of how long you’ve put your tree up. Don’t put it up too early, and don’t leave it longer than two weeks. Again, keep the stand watered at all times.
When disposing of your tree, never put branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. The best way to dispose it is to take it to a recycling center or having it taken away by a community pick-up service.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS TIPS
Before putting up your holiday lights, inspect them well for frayed wires, bare spots, excessive wear and other signs and signals indicating that you need to have them changed. Check your power supply too, and make sure you don’t overload your electrical outlets with too many light strands/decors. Check the wires periodically once installed. They shouldn’t be warm to the touch.
If possible, avoid the use of lit candles. Nowadays, there are battery-operated flameless candles which look and smell like real ones, so consider using those. However, if you do use lit candles, make sure they are installed in stable holders and are placed in areas where they cannot easily be knocked down. Never put lit candles on a tree, and remember not to leave them lit when you are going to bed.
It is advisable to have working smoke alarms in your home to alert you in case something goes wrong. Have them checked and keep them equipped with fresh batteries at all times. It also helps for every member of the family to know what to do, who and how to call in case of a fire. Enjoy the holidays and all the glad tidings it brings, and may you all have a safe and warm Christmas!
Yeager Insurance & Financial Services is an independent insurance and financial services agency serving West Virginia. To learn more about how we can serve your insurance and financial needs, please contact us at (304) 757-3900. You may also use this site to submit requests for insurance quotes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.