- Fire Department
- Information Center
- Holiday Safety Tips
Holiday Safety Tips
Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 8,100 people for injuries, such as falls, cuts, and shocks related to holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees. In addition, Christmas trees are involved in more than 400 fires annually, resulting in 30 deaths, 90 injuries and an average of more than $17 million in property loss and damage.
- Fire Extinguishers
- Smoking Material
- Choose Fire-Safe Toys
- Watch Children
When purchasing artificial trees, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from the branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
Setting Up a Tree
When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Indoors or outdoors, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards.
Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Use no more than three standard size sets of lights per single extension cord. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples, not nails or tacks, to hold strings in place, or run strings of lights through hooks. Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
For added electric-shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit Interrupters. Use extension cords sparingly, do not run cords between doorway or beneath carpeting where foot traffic takes place.
Use only non-combustible or flame resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or non-leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down. Never burn candles down to its base.
Homes with Small Children
In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
- Have your chimney inspected by a professional at least once a year and have it cleaned if necessary.
- Always use a fire screen, and burn only material appropriate for fireplaces.
- Never burn trash or paper in a fireplace; burning paper can float up your chimney and onto your roof or into your yard.
- Remove ashes and place in a metal container because they may rekindle.
- Never store ashes in your home.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace.
- A flash may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
- Use caution when decorating around a fireplace.
Be sure to have a fire extinguisher handy, and check to be sure it is fully charged. An ABC rated extinguisher is recommended.
Use extreme caution if using electric heaters or fuel space heaters. Keep heaters at least 36 inches away from furniture, bedding, walls, clothing, and other things that can burn. Always use the proper fuel for liquid-fueled heaters, be sure they are vented properly, and refill them only in well-ventilated areas and when they are cool. Make sure the type of space heater you use is legal in your area and bears the label of an independent testing laboratory.
Do not use unvented space heaters indoors. Do not leave heaters unattended. Be sure that small children stay away from heaters at all times.
Before you light them, put candles in non-tip candle holders.
Never burn candles near a Christmas tree or combustible decorations or displays. Keep candles well away from curtains and other combustibles, and never put candles in windows or near exits. Don't leave candles burning unattended or within the reach of small children.
Extinguish candles before you leave a room or go to bed.
Be sure to extinguish smoking material and discard properly.
When buying children's presents, avoid toys made of highly flammable materials, and be sure that all electric toys bear the label of an independent testing laboratory.
Use only lighters with a child resistant feature, and keep all matches and lighters out of children's reach - up high and preferably in a locked cabinet. Teach young children to stay away from candles, fireplaces, and space heaters. Teach and supervise older children to light candles and fireplace fires safely.