It’s that time of the year when families are preparing for the Christmas Holiday. Vendors selling live trees are readily available throughout the county and many families have purchased and decorated their Christmas trees beginning the day after Thanksgiving. Although beautiful, live trees can be dangerous and downright deadly if not properly cared for during this festive season.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), home fires that start with Christmas trees tend to be more deadly than typical home fires. Annually, between 2005 – 2009, fire departments across the U.S. responded to an average of 240 home fires that originated with Christmas trees. These fires resulted in an annual average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries and $16.7 million in property damage.
Although a fairly uncommon occurrence, Christmas tree fires are serious and more deadly than other types of fires. During 2005 - 2009, NFPA conducted a study in which 1 out of 18 home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death compared with 1 in every 141 home fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), trees provide an unusually large amount of fuel and a fire ignited by this source can spread through a room in a matter of seconds leaving little time to get out of the house safely.
Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue in conjunction with NFPA & USFA recommends the following safety tips when decorating your home with a live tree:
- Keep trees well-watered.
- Make sure your tree stand holds at least 1 gallon of water.
- Stands should provide ¼ of water per 1 inch of the trunk size of the tree.
- The average 6 foot tree can consume up to 1 gallon of water a day.
- At minimum, keep your tree 3 feet from all heat sources, i.e. fireplaces, heating vents, radiators, electric heaters, kerosene heaters, etc.
- 1 out of every 5 (20%) of Christmas tree fires started when a heat source was too close to the tree.
- Set your tree in an area where it will not block exists.
- Be sure lights and electrical cords are in good working condition.
- Replace lights that have worn cords or loose bulb connections.
- Nearly ½ of all Christmas tree fires involve some sort of electrical failure or malfunction.
- Turn off tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Check your tree for fresh green needles.
- Get rid of trees when they are dry.
- If you put your tree up during Thanksgiving it should come down prior to New Years.
When you take care of your tree, you prevent it from becoming a fire hazard.