The Holidays are upon us, and with them comes an increased risk of fire in the home.  Dry Christmas trees, candles, holiday lights, fireplaces and deep fried turkey’s are just some of the examples of the areas with increased fire risk during this time of year.  This article is intended to inform you of the potential dangers as well outline some of the ways you can keep you and your family safe from fire this Holiday season.

Christmas Trees

The following video is brought to us by National of Standards & Technology (NIST) and is a dramatic account of just how quick a dry tree can become engulfed in flames:

As you can see, a dry Christmas tree can become engulfed within less than a minute.  This is an important reminder to check and water your tree frequently to maintain a higher moisture content in the tree.

Holiday Decorations

The U.S. Fire Administration notes that one third of all candle fires originates within a bedroom.  This can lead to devastating consequences, especially if the home is not equipped with working smoke detectors.  It should also be noted that although Christmas tree fires may be rare, they are prone to being more serious in nature.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released the following statistics regarding holiday decorations:

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 860 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2009-2013. These fires caused an annual average of one civilian fire death, 41 civilian fire injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage.
  • Ten percent of decoration fires were intentional.
  • The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in nearly half (45%) of the fires.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. One out of six (17%) started in the living room, family room or den.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December.Keep Safe this Holiday Season

The American Red Cross offers the following tips to keep you and your family safe this holiday season:

  • Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees. If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
  • Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top.
  • Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure that all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year
  • Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to keep your home fire safe during the holidays.

Red Rock wishes everyone a happy Holiday season.  Stay safe San Diego!