Christmas trees popped up in homes in record time across the country this year, far ahead of the holiday season. People are turning to festive decorations to counter the doom and gloom of 2020, and spread some measure of cheer to others. But some elements of seasonal decor are potentially hazardous.
The combination of evergreen trees, wreaths, or branches with candles or lighting raises the risk of a home fire—and burning down your home is not the way you want to close out 2020.
“To make sure the holidays are the happiest time of the year, especially in these extraordinarily challenging times, you have to take fire safety precautions very seriously,” says Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association. “You can deck the halls with beautiful Christmas trees and holiday decorations while keeping the safety of your loved ones top of mind.”
And Christmas tree safety is no joke. According to ACTA, Christmas trees alone result in $13 million in property damage annually. Tree dryness, electrical malfunction with lights, and poorly located heating sources make a deadly combination for a fire.
Stay fire-smart this year by taking the following measures to ensure a holiday season that stays jolly.
1. Use light strands in good condition
The more lights the merrier, right? Only if those lights are in good shape before hanging and do not have frayed or loose connections.
“No matter the climate where you live, look for the UL seal. That seal means that the lights meet the national industry standards of the American National Standards Institute,” says Warner.
Make sure to use lights only where they're supposed to be used; outdoor lights should be used outdoors and indoor lights should be used indoors. Also, make sure to unplug your lights before going to bed.
Warner says to never put lights “anywhere near a heat source like a fireplace, a space heater, an oven or stove, or candles.”
Modern LED lights are the safest to use, and most high-quality artificial trees come with LED lights installed.
2. Give some TLC to your fresh Christmas tree
A fresh evergreen is a beautiful tradition but it requires maintenance so that it doesn't become a fire hazard. Experts say using a fresh tree—one with vibrant green needles that don't break or shed easily—makes it less likely to catch fire.
“Water real trees every day,” says Teresa Neal, fire program specialist at the U.S. Fire Administration. “Keep real trees away from heating vents.”
Trees should stay away from radiators, fireplaces, lights, and candles, too.
Warner suggests that real trees be taken down after four weeks.
3. Ensure your artificial tree is fire-resistant
Artificial trees require less maintenance than their living cousins, so you won't have to water them or sweep up the needles. But make sure you buy one that's fire-resistant.
“Look for the 'flame-resistant' label on artificial trees,” says Neal.
4. Anchor your tree
The last thing you want is to yell "Timber!" as you watch your Christmas tree take a fall. Experts recommend anchoring your tree to the ceiling or walls to ensure it stays upright. A good idea is to put it in the corner to make it easier to anchor from two sides.
Also, watch children and pets in the vicinity to prevent them from knocking over the tree.
5. Mind your candles
The top three days of the year for home fires caused by candles are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. And while candles can make any space festive, they can also light a fire.
“Avoid using candles when possible, and consider using battery-powered ones instead," says Neal. "If using candles, always place them on a sturdy base that doesn’t burn, away from anything that can burn. And never leave candles unattended, especially around children and pets. Do not use candles on bedside tables or near greenery, including a Christmas tree."
6. Mind your heat sources
Nearly half of holiday decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. No matter what kind of Christmas tree you display, keep it away from any and all heat sources.
Also, holiday candles should be placed at least a foot away from anything that could catch fire.
7. Have working smoke alarms
Properly maintaining a smoke alarm is important all year long, but it's especially essential during the cooler months when fireplaces are going and Christmas trees are decked out.
“Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home. Have them inside and outside sleeping areas. Test your alarm each month to make sure it is working. If your alarms are 10 years old or older, replace them,” says Neal.
Let's find you a home for the holidays! Contact The McLeod Group Network at (971) 208.5093 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Realtor.com, Anayat Durrani