OSWEGO, NY – Each year, US fire departments respond to an average of 250 home fires that started with Christmas trees.
These fires cause an average of 14 deaths, 26 injuries, and $13.8 million in direct property damage annually.
Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be serious.
On average, one of every 18 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death.
Oswego Fire Department Captain Jon Chawgo said, “Carefully choosing and decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer.”
The National Fire Protection Association and the City of Oswego Fire Department recommend following these Christmas tree safety tips:
Picking the tree:
If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
If you have a real tree, choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Placing the tree:
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1–2” from the base of the trunk.
Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
Lighting the tree:
Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL).
Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
Consider using LED type Christmas lights; they produce very little heat.
Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles.
Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.
Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.