By Mike Bellamy
If your Christmas tree becomes involved in a fire, you are not only losing your gifts under the tree but possibly your entire home or even your family.
‘Tis the season for holiday cheer and decorations. We are unboxing those decorations and sorting them out preparing to decorate for the holidays. Fire safety may not be one of your priorities as you set up your holiday décor, but we are here to change that!
“We want residents to have a safe holiday without a visit from the Grinch,” says Mike Bellamy, Public Information Officer for the Tallahassee Fire Department (TFD). “If your Christmas tree becomes involved in a fire, you are not only losing your gifts under the tree but possibly your entire home or even your family.”
Each year, fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer. The Tallahassee Fire Department wants you to follow these guidelines while enjoying your holiday. For more fire safety information visit talgov.com/fire.
Picking the Tree
- If you choose an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
- Choose a real tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Placing the Tree
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut one to two inches 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. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Replace any string of lights that has 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. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect.
- 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 hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Look for a tree recycling program in your community.
- Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards. They’ll also last longer.
Here’s to a joyful and safe holiday season!
Mike Bellamy is the public information officer of the Tallahassee Fire Department.