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Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Coalition
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Holiday Fire Safety

Each year fires associated with the holiday season injure 1200 individuals and cause over $25 million in damage. Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases. Follow these safety precautions to reduce the risk of an electrical fire in your home during the holiday season:

Holiday Trees
  • Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut.
  • The tree trunk should be sticky to the touch.
  • Old trees can be identified by bounding the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, hasprobably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
  • Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.
  • Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a 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.
  • Never put tree branches or needles ina fireplace or woodburning 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.
Holiday Lights
  • Maintain your holiday lights. Inspect them 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 light 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.
  • Do not leave holiday lights unattended.
Holiday decorations
  • Use only nonflammable decorations.
  • Keep decorations 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.
  • If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Candle Care
  • Avoid using lit candles. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down.
  • Never leave the house with candles burning.
  • Never put lit candles on a tree.
  • Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame - candles, lighters, or matches.
  • Have working smoke alarms.
Back to Fire Safety

Electrical Fire Safety

Precautions for the Elderly