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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Tree Safety

The Christmas season is underway. The stores are having their sales, the temperatures are cool, festive lights are going up around the neighborhood, and families are shopping for their Christmas tree.

If you are still planning on decorating your home with lights, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and your local fire department reminds you that checking those light strands before putting them up could help to prevent a devastating fire. Make sure that all indoor and outdoor lighting and electrical decorations are approved for the use you have planned for them and that they are in good condition. If you find damaged wires or frayed ends, replace the entire set of lights. It’s much less expensive to replace a string of lights than your home.

CAL FIRE has these suggestions for your trip to the local Christmas tree lot. Test for freshness by gently tugging on the needles: If they readily come off in your hand, the tree is dry and you should look for a fresher one. Always trim two (2) inches from the base: Place in water or wet sand. Check the water level daily and add water as needed during the holiday season. At home, keep the tree away from heaters and drapes. Never place an open flame on or near the tree. Use mini-lights on your tree, they produce less heat reducing the drying effect and are less expensive to operate. As with outside lights, always check for frayed or cracked wiring and broken sockets before placing them on the tree. Never leave the lights on while you are away or asleep. Additionally, avoid overloading the electrical circuits.

As a Christmas tree grows dryer over the weeks that it is in your home, it becomes increasingly easy for any significant heat source include large hot lights to ignite the tree.

If you have young children, keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t accidentally set the tree on fire. A six foot cut Christmas tree can ignite and burn to a cinder in about 30 seconds. That is all the time necessary to begin a fire that can destroy your home and possibly result in death or injury for family members.

For additional safety, remove the tree from the house the day after Christmas and never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace. It burns to fast and can be explosive. Try to recycle your Christmas tree if possible. The CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit wishes everyone a Fire Safe Holiday Season.