MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013
Each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim lives, cause injuries, and cause millions of dollars in damage. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday.
Preventing Holiday Tree Fires
You need to take special fire safety precautions when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases. Learn more about keeping live trees:
- Selecting a Tree for the Holiday - Needles should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. You can identify old trees by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
- Caring for Your Tree - Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
- Disposing of Your Tree - Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
- Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree - Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame-- candles, lighters, or matches.
Many artificial trees are fire resistant. If you buy one, look for a statement specifying this protection.
A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. To check for freshness, remember:
A fresh tree is green.
Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches.
When bent between your fingers, fresh needles do not break.
The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is too dry.
Place tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry trees out rapidly, creating fire hazards.
Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors.
Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways. Use thin guy-wires to secure a large tree to walls or ceiling. These wires are almost invisible.
Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled. To avoid injury, read container labels; follow directions carefully.
- Maintain Your Holiday Lights - Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
- Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets - Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires-- they should not be warm to the touch.
Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory.
Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage.
Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted! To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it!
Keep "bubbling" lights away from children. These lights with their bright colors and bubbling movement can tempt curious children to break candle-shaped glass, which can cut, and attempt to drink liquid, which contains a hazardous chemical.• • • • •
- Use Only Nonflammable Decorations - All decorations should be nonflammable or flame retardant and placed away from heat vents.
- Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace - It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
- Artificial Holiday Trees - If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. In addition, remember to practice your home escape plan.
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