How to prevent christmas tree fires


How to prevent – and extinguish – a Christmas tree fire

Take these prevention measures to lower the chance of your holiday centerpiece going up in flames, and find out what to do if that does happen

Each year, millions of people cut down or purchase live trees to bring inside their home and adorn with lights, ornaments, candy and sentimental mementos from over the years. As they’re decorating the foliage, the image in their mind is one of a Christmas ideal, not a tree roasting under the onslaught of flames, igniting the wrapped gifts underneath and licking at nearby furniture.

However, according to the NFPA, that scenario happens on average 160 times each year, causing three deaths, 15 injuries and $10 million in property damage during the holidays.  

How can you prevent a catastrophic tree fire during this time of year? And, if the worst does happen, what should you do?

Preventing a Christmas tree fire

1. Hydration. Water – that – tree. Nothing will help prevent a fire from breaking out than putting water into the plant itself. In a video from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, two decorated Christmas trees are set on fire – one watered, one dry. The results are shocking. 

The tree that has been watered never fully ignites as a rolling fire and creates less smoke. Within seconds of ignition, however, the dry tree goes up in flames, forcing firefighters to come in and extinguish it. 

2. Light safety. Before weaving your tree with Christmas lights, plug each strand in and check the wiring throughout. Inspect all bulbs on the tree for looseness or other issues. An electrical fire could spark due to faulty wiring, or overloaded outlets. For these types of fires, a Class C fire extinguisher is required; do NOT attempt to put out an electrical fire with an extinguisher not labeled with Class C.

3. Fire safety. The best way to prevent a Christmas tree from catching fire is to keep fire away from the Christmas tree. Open-flame candles should not be placed near the branches, and fireplaces should feature a screen to prevent popping embers. Position the tree away from the fireplace if possible, as well.

Extinguishing a Christmas tree fire

Uh oh: The tree is on fire.

Despite your best efforts, your Christmas tree can still catch fire, whether from an electrical wiring spark or a too-close candle flame or popping fireplace embers.

What do you do now?

1. Call 911. There’s a fire in your home, and, regardless of whether or not you can safely put it out yourself, you need professionals to come in and double check that you’ve fully extinguished the blaze, and safely prevented another fire from occurring from the same source.

2. Evacuate. Everyone else in the home should put the pre-established fire plan into action and evacuate the home to the meeting spot.

3. Gauge the size. Even with the proper type of fire extinguisher, a Christmas tree fire may grow too large too quickly to be handled by a home tank. If you can catch the flame before it grows larger than a small trashcan, and have the appropriate type of extinguisher, use PASS (pull, aim, squeeze and sweep) to douse the blaze.

4. Abandon. If, after a short period of time, the fire does not seem to be getting smaller, put the extinguisher down and leave the house to wait for the fire department.

This article, originally published in December 2019, has been updated. 

About the author

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior associate editor of FireRescue1.com and EMS1.com. In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor's degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email. 

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of a Christmas Tree Fire in your Home

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Christmas is just weeks away, and while this will be a holiday season for the record books, some traditions remain. Traditions like setting up and decorating the Christmas tree is one cherished by many. Christmas trees can bring instant holiday joy, but they can also be a fire hazard.

The NFPA reports that between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. And on average, one of every 52 reported home fire that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 135 total reported home fires.

What’s the main cause of these Christmas tree fires? Electrical distribution or lighting equipment as well as some type of heat source (such as a candle) being too close to the tree are the top culprits. Consider these ways to reduce your risk of a Christmas tree fire in your home.

Replace artificial trees to maintain fire retardant

Real trees are more dangerous when it comes to fire, but artificial trees are also vulnerable to fire. Depending on the age of the tree, even flame-resistant artificial trees can be a fire hazard as the flame retardant can wear off over time. Did you know that the average usable lifespan for an artificial Christmas tree is six years? Check the lifespan of your tree and adhere to those guidelines.

When purchasing a new artificial tree, only purchase trees that feature flame retardant compound.

Don’t leave lights plugged in

Most households keep their Christmas trees in their living rooms. When everyone goes to bed, guess what’s sitting unattended and plugged into the wall? Your Christmas tree lights! Just as you would flip off the kitchen light before bed, do the same to the tree. Even an artificial tree can catch fire as a result of tree lights.

Christmas lights can get hot, and in some instances, start fires. Even the popular LED lights can overheat.

Avoid using extension cords

Extension cords are not intended for long-term use. Using an extension cord to light your Christmas tree is not safe. Overusing extension cords can overheat cords and cause increased fire risk.

Overloading extension cords or outlets is another danger to watch for. Instead of using one or more extension cords, it’s best to use a power strip. Power strips are designed to support multiple appliances like strings of lights or Christmas decorations.

Other tips include using a protected GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) circuit and inspecting all cords on your Christmas tree lights and any power strips for physical signs of wear and tear.

Inspect pre-lit artificial trees each year

Pre-lit artificial trees can pose electrical shock hazards and fire risks from exposed wiring, wiring that is too short, or cords that aren’t completely plugged in.

The convenience of these trees is hard to beat. Pre-lit trees are great for a “leave it and forget it” approach to lighting your tree, but it can also be a major fire hazard. Year after year, the cords and wiring get worn just like any other electrical cord. The problem is that you can’t see the wires in the tree. Each year take a flashlight to your tree and inspect every inch of cord that you see. Any physical damage is a sign to discard of the tree.

Check water levels daily for real trees

Real trees pose a serious fire risk. They are not flame resistant and can go up in flames in seconds. One of the most common cause for real tree fires is a dried-out tree. Check water levels daily and provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter.

Keep in mind that buying your tree too early can also pose an added fire risk.

 Fox Business reports “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a reminder to consumers to keep real trees hydrated in order to prevent any potential fires this season. The warning comes as an increasing number of consumers are purchasing trees earlier than normal, especially real evergreens that need to be watered.”

Fire Systems, Inc.

Fire Systems cares for you and your family and we want everyone to stay safe this holiday season. Each year, we share tips for holiday safety and point to the common holiday fire hazards that each household may experience. We are family-owned and family-operated. We’ve been in the fire protection industry for over three decades. Let us help you with your fire protection needs. From sprinkler to alarm, we do it all. Visit our website to find out more or call us today at 770-333-7979.

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Christmas tree caught fire

What to do if the Christmas tree lights up on New Year's holidays? Unfortunately, this is a common question - ignoring fire safety rules leads to the creation of potentially dangerous situations. But for a fire to start, literally one spark, a short circuit, is enough. And then the holiday will be hopelessly spoiled.


Precautions

The Christmas tree is a subject of increased danger. Without it, it is difficult to imagine the celebration of the New Year - it is a real festive attribute, creates a cheerful mood, pleases children and adults. However, so that decorating the house for the holidays does not lead to tragedy, the following rules must be observed:

  • Do not use homemade and faulty Christmas garlands - be sure to check their work before decorating the Christmas tree. Buy Christmas tree illumination only in trusted stores, and not in markets and dubious outlets. All garlands must have a warranty card, accompanying documentation. The recommended voltage of the bulbs in them is up to 12 volts, the power is up to 25 watts.

  • Do not decorate the Christmas tree with toys made of cotton wool, gauze, paper and other flammable materials. They can catch fire from the slightest spark. Also, in no case should you decorate the Christmas tree with candles;

  • Install the Christmas tree on a stable base;

  • Place the tree away from heating and other electrical appliances. In this case, the branches of the tree should not touch the walls, ceilings. Also, do not install a Christmas tree at the exit from the house / apartment;

  • When leaving home, be sure to unplug the Christmas tree garland from the outlet;

  • Do not let children play with Christmas tree lights. Do not let the kids play with the Christmas tree plugged into the socket without supervision;

  • Do not connect several powerful electrical appliances to the network at the same time, especially if you plan to leave home;

  • Do not use more than one electrical extension cord at a time;

  • Use factory-made automatic fuses to protect the electrical network from power surges;

  • Do not operate faulty electrical equipment. Especially when it comes to electric heaters;

  • If you notice that an outlet or other electrical installation becomes hot when you plug in a device, do not use that jack. At the first opportunity, immediately call a specialist who will find out what the problem is and fix it.


Action in case of fire

If your tree is on fire, don't panic. It is necessary to act collectively and quickly - then the chances of extinguishing fires increase significantly. Firefighters' instructions for extinguishing the Christmas tree are as follows:

  • First of all, take children and the elderly out of the room to a safe place;

  • Immediately turn off the power to the Christmas tree, tip it to the floor;

  • Start extinguishing the Christmas tree with improvised means: earth from a flower pot, a bedspread, a blanket (not synthetic), a fire extinguisher (if available).

  • If attempts to cope with the fire yourself do not give results, leave the premises by calling the fire department;

  • Close the door of the room where the emergency occurred, and pour water on it from the outside;

  • Be sure to notify your neighbors about the fire so that they can leave their apartments in a timely manner if necessary.

Important! In no case should an artificial Christmas tree be extinguished with water. Doing so can scatter sparks and spread the fire area, as well as splatter molten plastic, which can cause serious burns. Also, do not use water unless the garland is unplugged from the outlet.

You can put out the Christmas tree on your own if you notice the fire right away. Remember: burning synthetic materials release potent poisons, so if you can't put out the fire within a few minutes, leave the room. Even a couple of breaths of toxic fumes are enough to lose consciousness. Don't risk your own life!


Additional recommendations

Fire safety rules are relevant not only in the event of a Christmas tree fire. In the house of each of us there are a lot of electrical appliances that can short-circuit, spark and even catch fire in the event of power surges, power failures. Therefore it is recommended:

  • Buy a fire extinguisher. Buy the device taking into account the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe living space and store it in an accessible place so that in the event of a fire you can quickly start extinguishing.

  • Equip a fire safety system. A small device with sensors will instantly signal the presence of smoke in the room or an excessively high temperature. This is very convenient - the device is quite inexpensive, does not need frequent repairs and maintenance.

Fire safety needs to be taken seriously. It is easier to prevent such a problem than to deal with its solution and elimination of consequences.

Memo on fire safety measures when arranging and holding a New Year tree - Actual

New Year and Christmas holidays - a wonderful time for children and adults. In almost every house, a beautiful Christmas tree is installed and decorated. In order for these days not to be overshadowed by misfortune, it is necessary to pay special attention to the observance of fire safety measures, which are very simple.

So that the New Year holidays are not overshadowed by misfortune, remember these simple rules:

  1. The Christmas tree is placed on a stable stand, away from heating appliances.
  2. To light the Christmas tree, use only serviceable factory-made electric garlands.

During the celebration of the New Year tree it is forbidden:

- dress children in suits made of flammable materials;

- carry out fire, painting and other fire hazardous work;

- use shutters on windows to darken rooms;

- reduce the width of the aisles between the rows of chairs and install additional seats in the aisles;

- completely turn off the lights in the room during performances and performances.

Never use pyrotechnics!

In order for the holiday not to turn into a tragedy, it is necessary to strictly observe the fire safety rules when organizing and holding a New Year tree. We remind you that in the event of a fire, you can call the rescue service by mobile phone - 112.

STUDENT FIRE REMINDER

  1. If you notice any signs of fire, inform an adult, call 01 and give your address.
  2. If you are alone in the building and there are younger children with you, calm them down and take them out of the building.
  3. When moving, close the doors to the room where the fire has occurred.
  4. If the rooms are smoky, move to the exit by crawling on the floor, oxygen remains below the floor.
  5. If the fire cut off your path to the exit, go out onto the balcony, open the window, break the glass and call for help. In a closed room, knock on the walls, floor, ceiling so that people can hear you.
  6. If possible, fill the tub with water, find a tube to breathe in and dive into the water.
  7. In a smoky room, breathe through a cloth dampened with water.
  8. In case of fire in any room, if you cannot get out, do not hide under combustible objects, stay close to the walls, in case of collapse this is the safest place.
  9. When your clothes catch fire, do not try to run (burning will be even stronger) quickly take off your clothes, throw them in a safe place, put out. If it is impossible to quickly remove the clothes, then wrap yourself in a cloth (blanket, bedspread), or fall to the floor, the ground and rotate to pinch the flame and extinguish it. You can also quickly put out clothes on another person.

MEMO for schoolchildren on what to do in case of fire

  1. If you notice signs of a fire, inform an adult, call 01 and state the address where you are.
  2. If you are alone in the building and there are younger children with you, calm them down and take them out of the building.
  3. When moving, close the doors to the room where the fire has occurred.
  4. If the rooms are smoky, move to the exit by crawling on the floor, oxygen remains below the floor.
  5. If the fire cut off your path to the exit, go out onto the balcony, open the window, break the glass and call for help. In a closed room, knock on the walls, floor, ceiling so that people can hear you.
  6. If possible, fill the tub with water, find a tube to breathe in and dive into the water.
  7. In a smoky room, breathe through a cloth dampened with water.
  8. If your clothes catch fire, do not try to run (burning will be even stronger) quickly take off your clothes, throw them in a safe place, extinguish. If it is impossible to quickly remove the clothes, then wrap yourself in a cloth (blanket, bedspread), or fall to the floor, the ground and rotate to pinch the flame and extinguish it. You can also quickly put out clothes on another person.
  9. In case of fire in any room, if you cannot get out, do not hide under combustible objects, stay close to the walls, in case of collapse this is the safest place.

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