As You Deck the Halls this Season be Fire Smart

The holiday season has officially arrived! We want to make sure your time with family, friends and coworkers is not only a joyous occasion but a safe one as well. Following a few simple tips can keep your holidays cheerful and bright. So, as you’re decorating your home and office with garland and lights and trimming your tree with your favorite ornaments, keep our holiday tips in mind!

Selecting and Placing Your Tree

When selecting a live tree, buy the freshest you can find. A fresh tree is green in color and needles are hard to pull back from the branches. The trunk bottom should be sticky to the touch and should not lose many needles when bounced on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree is older and has most likely dried out increasing your home or office’s risk of fire. When preparing your tree for the stand, cut it 2 inches from the base of the trunk to expose fresh wood, which allows for better water absorption.

If you plan to purchase an artificial tree, make sure it bears a “Fire Resistant” or “Fire Retardant” label. While this type of tree can still catch fire, it will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

When placing your tree in your home, choose a cool location. Keep your tree, live or artificial, at least three feet from sources of heat. The heat emitting from wood stoves, heater vents and fireplaces can quickly dry out a tree which increases your risk of a fire.

Tip: To maximize freshness of your tree and to minimize a fire risk, keep the tree outdoors for a few days in a bucket filled with water before bringing it indoors to decorate.

Lighting and Decorating

Before putting up any holiday lights, inspect them for frayed wires, bare spots and general wear and tear. Be sure to only use lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

A few additional decorating suggestions:
Choose decorations that are flame resistant or retardant.
Do not overload electrical outlets.
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate otherwise.
Periodically check wires; they should not be warm to the touch.
Do not leave lights turned on for prolonged periods or unattended.
Position bulbs so that they aren’t in direct contact with ornaments, gifts, or needles.
Be sure to use lights rated for their appropriate use. Outdoor lights outdoor. Indoor lights indoor.

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Tip: Use LED lights. In addition to being shatterproof and shock resistant, LED lights are low producers of heat, making them safe to touch and more energy efficient.

Maintenance

Heated rooms can quickly dry out a natural tree, greatly increasing the chance of a fire. Be sure to check your tree’s water level daily, never letting the water level fall below the base of the tree. If the water line does fall, a seal of dried sap will form over the cut stump in a matter of hours, preventing the tree from absorbing water when water is added. If a seal does form, another fresh cut will need to be made.

Well-watered trees are less likely to catch fire and work to keep a potential tree fire from spreading but a dry and neglected tree can be a dangerous