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Christmas Tree Fire Safety

December 6, 2012

Christmas Tree 2012If you don’t have your Christmas tree up yet, you probably have someone in your house clamoring for you to get it up.  Christmas trees are a central feature in homes this time of year.  While we recommend using a fake tree, a live tree can be used safely if you follow some simple guidelines.

We’ve referred to the scientists at the National Institute of Science and Technology before.  They’ve conducted a number of tests on Christmas trees.  The following are recommendations from NIST to ensure your live tree stays green and prevents easy ignition:

  1. Cut an additional two inches from the butt of the trunk when you get it home.
  2. Keep the tree in water constantly.  Check it daily.  Don’t let the reservoir dry out.
  3. Ensure needles are green and pliable. Trees with brown needles, that fall from the tree when shaken, and break when bent will ignite extremely easily and flash a room over very quickly.

Good Christmas light strings are also crucial.  If you’ve got old cords that are shorting or overheating, get rid of them and get new light strings that have the UL seal to ensure they’ve passed some level of safety inspection.

Keep candles away from any live vegetation displays.  Use UL approved electric lights near vegetation displays and keep the candles somewhere else.

Remember that all of the boxed gifts around the base of your tree, wrapped in combustible paper, represent a huge additional fuel load to your home.  Everyone has gifts under their tree (hopefully you get lots of gifts this year), just remember the hazard that poses to your home and use appropriate caution.

Today’s video is from NIST and shows a dry Christmas tree being ignited by an electrical short.  Note that at 29 seconds the couch is beginning to melt.  By about 44 seconds the couch and chair have ignited and thick black smoke is down to waist level.  A Christmas tree burning in your home will not give your family much time to escape so be extremely careful with your tree.  It will help preserve your home and your family.

 

If you’ve got questions about Christmas tree safety, give us a call at 509-466-4602, or e-mail me at dbleeker@scfd9.org, or post your question here on this page.

REFERENCES:  http://www.fire.nist.gov/tree_fire.htm

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