Christmas tree fires are more deadly than regular home fires and are twice as likely to end with a fatality compared to other home fires. However, by following the proper precautions, this holiday decoration can be enjoyed without incident.
Start with a Healthy Tree
The first step to a safe Christmas tree is choosing a healthy one and doing the work to keep it healthy. Pick a tree that is not dropping needles and has been recently cut. Once you bring it home, put it in water directly and keep the water full and fresh throughout the season. If you bring the tree home early, you can preserve its freshness by waiting to add lights and spritzing the branches with water on a daily basis until you do.
Position the Tree Away from Heat Sources
Where you choose to put your tree can make a big difference. By placing the tree away from heat sources, you not only remove the possibility of those sources causing your tree to catch fire, but also prolong the life of your tree as heat sources can dry out the branches. A tree positioned away from heat vents, radiators, space heaters, fireplaces, etc. will be healthier and less of a fire hazard.
Be Careful with the Lights!
According to the NFPA, almost half of all Christmas tree fires are started by electrical distribution or lighting equipment. To light your tree safely, the NFPA recommends the following: use lights that have been tested and approved by a recognized lab (an example would be UL approved lights), do not connect more strands that the manufacturer recommends, replace old or broken strands, and always turn off the lights when leaving the house or going to bed.
Candles. Candles are the cause of so many fires, including Christmas ones. Here is a list of places candles should not be: near the Christmas tree, under the Christmas tree, next to the Christmas tree, above the Christmas tree, ON the Christmas tree. Where can they be enjoyed? In enclosed containers a safe distance from anything flammable, for example, tea lights in glass votive containers in the center of the table or a glass candle on the mantlepiece away from any garlands or cards. The only time a candle should be within two feet of the Christmas tree is when it is unlit and wrapped as a gift. Otherwise, choose a battery-powered candle instead and save the real ones for the other parts of the house.
Finally, do not set your Christmas tree on fire. Frighteningly, one-fifth of Christmas tree fires from 2013-2017 were intentional. Whether this was due to people disposing of their trees by burning them or caused by ill-willed house guests (crazier things have happened), we want to remind you that there are safer ways to dispose of your tree after the holidays (more on that after Christmas) and that the best way to guarantee a safe Christmas might be to keep your guests calm and happy this season! We always have fire extinguishers available for purchase also, just in case. Happy tree-trimming!