The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 250 home fires each year involve Christmas trees, and holiday lights cause another 170. Together, such fires resulted in 21 deaths and 43 injuries. The Wilton Fire Department offers these tips to keep your home safe this holiday season.
A well-watered freshly cut tree is the best defense against fire. A fresh tree can be identified by the needles, which should be green and difficult to pull away from the branches. The needles on an old tree that has dried out will fall off easily when the trunk is bounced off the ground. A dry tree will readily catch fire and burn intensely. A fresh cut should be made about a half-inch up the trunk to help the tree draw in water. Once cut, place the trunk in water to prevent a sap seal from forming.
When choosing a location for your tree, keep it away from heat sources such as fireplaces, heating vents or space heaters, and do not block any of your home's exits.
A sturdy base should be used that holds enough water for the tree. Larger trees may need guy wires for support. Check and water your tree daily so that it does not dry out. If the tree does dry out, it should be disposed of properly. Do not attempt to burn the branches in your fireplace or wood stove. Check with your trash disposal service about picking up the tree.
If you use an artificial tree make sure to get one that is flame resistant.
Avoid using candles during the holidays. If you do use candles, keep them away from the tree and any flammable decorations. Place candles in sturdy holders in places where they will not get knocked over. Never leave candles burning unattended.
When selecting holiday lights, look for lights that are labeled and listed for indoor or outdoor use. Check older lights for frayed or damaged cords. Also, do not overload the electrical outlets: No more than three strands of lights should be connected in a row. Check the wires after they are plugged in; they should not feel warm. Holiday lights should not be left unattended. Switch them off or unplug them at bedtime or when leaving the house.
The Wilton Fire Department wishes you a safe and happy holiday season. For more safety tips and other information, visit the department's website or call 203-834-6249.
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