December 2015
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holiday Fire Safety Tips


Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition but unfortunately these decorations may increase your chances of fire.  Based on information from the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights occur each year.  Together these fires resulted in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in property damage.  Following are a few safety tips to help ensure that you have a fire safe holiday season.

Christmas Tree Fire Hazards

  • Select freshly cut trees, the trunk should be sticky to the touch, the needles should be green and hard to pull back from the branches.
  • Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent.  Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. 
  • Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house.  A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.  The following link demonstrates how fast a live Christmas tree can become fully engulfed in flames.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.  When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.  The best way to dispose of your tree is to take it to a recycling center.

Holiday Lights

  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up.
  • Do not overload your electrical outlets by linking more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe.  Make sure to periodically check the wires-tghey should not be warm to the touch.
  • Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.

Holiday Decorations

  • Use only nonflammable decorations or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
  • Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace which can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

Candle Care

  • Avoid using lit candles, but if you do use them make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked over.  Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.   Never leave the house or go to bed with candles burning.  Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all time.  And remember to practice your home escape plan.


Have a happy safe holiday season!

Courtesy of the Board of Directors, staff and firefighters of the Berthoud Fire Protection District

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