Many years ago, Americans decorated their Christmas trees with strands of popcorn and REAL CANDLES (can you believe it, popcorn?). There’s no telling how many houses burned down and how many Christmases were ruined by yesterday’s flaming Christmas icon. Luckily, people are more aware of how house fires start and our modern Christmas tree decorations are much safer, not to mention, most homes today are equipped with smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (CO detectors). Also, as part of their fire protection services, many Buffalo and Western New York home alarm system providers offer smoke detector and CO detector monitoring as an inexpensive add-on service. However, it never hurts to take a few extra precautions around the holidays to protect your home and family. The following is a list of practical tips for preventing Christmas tree and whole house fires:
Choose the Right Christmas Tree
For all of you traditionalists out there, there’s nothing like the look, feel, and aroma of a real Christmas tree. Just make sure you choose one that isn’t loosing its needles as rapidly as Prince William is loosing his hair. That means selecting a fresh green tree that retains its needles when touched. If real trees aren’t your thing, try to find an artificial tree that’s been identified by its manufacturer as being flame retardant.
Trim the Trunk of Your Christmas Tree
Before placing your natural tree in its stand, trim a couple of inches off of the bottom of its trunk to allow it to soak up water. Ideally, you should make the cut at a 45 degree angle. If you don’t own a chainsaw or a sawsall, we’d recommend calling over a friend (preferably, someone who’s handy and has not yet sampled the eggnog).
Water Your Christmas Tree
This might sound a little silly, since your tree’s no longer planted in soil, but the most important thing you can do to prevent your Christmas tree from catching fire and ruining your Christmas is to water it regularly. Fill your tree stand with water several time per day and check the water level regularly. Keep in mind that, over the winter months, the air in our homes can become exceedingly dry from the use of furnaces and heaters. This lack of humidity can accelerate the drying of your tree and the evaporation of water from its base. Remember: if your tree has completely dried out, it’s dangerous and should be thrown away.
Keep Your Christmas Tree Away from Heat Sources
Obviously you’ll want to keep your tree away from any open flames like fireplaces, stoves, and candles, but you’ll also want to keep it away from other sources of heat like radiators, heating vents, and non-Christmas tree lights since these things can contribute to the untimely drying-out (or even combustion) of your tree.
Light Your Christmas Tree Safely
Lighting your tree safely means using light stands that are in good condition. There should be no broken or frayed wires and no loose or broken bulbs. Try not to connect more than three strands of mini string sets together and, when it comes to screw-in bulbs, try not to exceed the 50 bulb maximum. Just to be on the safe side, always turn off your tree lights before leaving the room.
One Final Piece of Home Safety Advice: Wear Your Slippers!
When approaching your tree on Christmas morning, be sure to have something more than socks on your feet because nothing says, “good morning” like a sharp pine needle poking through your sock and lodging itself between your toes – OUCH! … oh, and a smoke detector might make a thoughtful (and smart) Christmas gift!
We Want to Hear from You!
If you’re interesting in learning more about residential fire protection, contact SHIELD® Security Systems, your WNY home security system provider.