Christmas Tree Safety

The men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department would like to reiterate and stress that the holiday season is also a time of increased risk, that involve hazards in the home. Added this season is the threat of potential mudslides in the recently burned areas of the Sayre Brush fire.

During these challenging economic times, we encourage all to remain fire safe! Christmas Trees Each holiday season an estimated 500 residential fires, which result in approximately 100 injuries and 40 deaths can be attributed to Christmas tree fires.

Christmas Tree Safety
Christmas Tree Safety

Here are a few suggestions to help make this a safe Christmas holiday.

  • For live trees, make sure the tree is freshly cut. The needles should be flexible and not fall off if a branch is run through your hand. Make a fresh 1-inch cut on the stump end and place in warm water. In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day. Many freshly cut trees will last at least five weeks before drying out. Cutting a tree too early can be a severe fire hazard. If not maintained properly, a Christmas tree can dry out significantly.
  • Choose a location to display your tree that is away from doors and heat sources: fireplaces, radiators and air ducts. Trees sold on retail lots, may have come from out of state, cut as much as two weeks prior to their delivery and have started the drying process.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove or discard in an unsafe manner. Recycle your old tree. Most communitties offer a special day for Christmas tree recycling.
  • Artificial trees should have a label indicating the tree is fire-resistant.
  • Use only “non-combustible” or “flame-resistant” materials to decorate the tree. Never place lighted candles on a tree or near other flammable items.
  • Lights should never adorn a metallic tree. The tree may be electrically charged from using faulty lights or electrical cords and may become charged with electricity, resulting in electrocution if touched. Christmas Lights The use of electric extension cords and overloaded electrical plugs are the main cause of electrical fires igniting Christmas trees and outdoor decorations.

To protect your family, consider the following tips:

  • Look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label that indicates the electrical cord has been tested for safety.
  • Check all lights for any signs of damage, fraying or “blackening” to the socket. When damage is detected take the lights “out of service.”
  • Use lights as they are labeled, “indoor” and/or “outdoor.”
  • NEVER leave Christmas tree lighting or decorations lit over night. Check the following website: Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Holiday Toy Recall Checklist” to be sure you haven’t purchased a recalled item.

Enjoy a safe and Joyous Holiday!

Submitted by d’Lisa Davies, Los Angeles Fire Department

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