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Here’s What You Should Know to Lower Your Fire Risk with Christmas Trees

Each type of Christmas Tree has its own fire risks, but you can keep your risks low by following some important safety tips.

Did you know that Christmas trees were a major cause of death? We’re not saying you should dump the evergreen in the street (the council won’t thank you for it) but you should definitely think about the fire safety aspects when you put it up. There were more fires in December than any other month last year, so don’t let your tree become the dry tinder which burns your house down. There are quite a few mistakes people make with their tree.

1. Do not spray flammable hair spray on it

You might think we’re joking, but we are not. This is actually a common ‘hack’ to stop needles falling – but it’s obviously a terrible idea. Consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First surveyed people and found 1 in 8 of admitted spraying hairspray on the tree. Having wood and dry leaves in your house is already a fire risk, so adding something to make the tree burn more easily is not the smartest thing you could think of. Please don’t do this.

2. Don’t use old lights

Having old, damaged Christmas lights wrapped around a dry tree that isn’t watered is the worst thing you could do when it comes to your tree (aside from also dousing it with L’Oreal Elnett). Old lights are more likely to have an electrical malfunction, sending up a spark which could spread to the branches. In the survey, some people admitted using lights which were 30 years old. They might have sentimental value, but so do your Christmas presents.

3. Be careful with naked flames

Sure, they look really nice on the tree. But this is obviously a risk, and if you use candles you need to keep an eye on them. Don’t leave the room with them still burning, in case you come back to a situation that’s already out of control. One in three people admitted using tea-lights in baubles or similar on the tree, exposing it a naked flame. If you can, use electric lights instead (preferably LED ones, which use less energy).

4. Don’t leave fairy lights on overnight or when you leave the house

They can overheat if left on for long periods of time. If you leave them on overnight, nobody will be checking the tree for hours at a time. Around 1 in 5 of those who put Christmas lights on their tree admitted to leaving their festive lights on overnight when they go to bed or when they leave the house.

5. Don’t overload plug sockets

Over half of those surveyed said they will be relying on adapters to plug in their appliances this Christmas, which pose a serious risk if they are overloaded Try to avoid the use of extension leads as they can increase the risk of an electrical problem.

6. Think about getting a fake tree instead

They often burn more slowly, which could buy you vital time in an emergency. Emma Drackford, from Electrical Safety First, said: ‘The worrying speed with which a real Christmas tree can burn makes it advisable that consumers consider break with tradition this year, as if your fake tree catches fire you’re likely to have considerably more time to get out. ‘Whether your Christmas tree is real or fake, it’s vitally important that you ensure any lights on or around it are in good condition and plugged into sockets that aren’t overloaded. Also, station your tree away from any heat sources such as radiators and never leave festive lights switched on when you leave the house or go to bed.’

Advice from Electrical Safety First ALWAYS:

• read and follow the manufacturers’ instructions

• check your Christmas lights are not damaged or broken before use and look out for loose wires

• use only replacement bulbs of the same type and rating as those originally supplied with the lights

• ensure all outdoor lights are connected via a 30mA RCD protected socket

* replace failed lamps immediately to prevent overheating

• ensure plugs and transformers are plugged in indoors, even if the lighting is suitable for outdoor use

• switch your lights off and unplug them before you go to bed or go out

• keep lights away from flammable decorations and materials that can burn easily NEVER:

• use lights outdoors unless they are specially designed for such use

• connect different lighting sets together

• connect lights to the supply whilst still in the packaging

• remove or insert lamps while the chain is connected to the supply

*overload sockets – try to avoid the use of extension leads or adaptors

• attempt to repair faulty lights – replace them

• use lights that are damaged or faulty

They recommend LED over traditional filament Christmas lighting because:

• They operate at extra-low voltage which significantly reduces the risk of electric shock.

• They use much less power, generating little heat and so reducing the risk of fire and burns. This makes them safer to use.

• They are estimated to use 80-90% less electricity than filament lamps so they are less expensive to run and typically last up to 60 times longer.

• They are more durable. Because LED lights are made of a special plastic with no filament, there are no glass lamps to break.

• They are a great deal more efficient to run and good at saving energy so are more environmentally friendly.

When choosing a Christmas tree, the biggest decision most people have to make is whether to purchase a live tree or to pull the artificial tree from the attic. While artificial trees pose fewer safety concerns than live trees, they don’t really have the same look, feel, and smell as live trees. Whether you choose a live or artificial, each type of tree comes with its own set of fire safety concerns.

Purchasing A Live Tree That Is Still Alive

Keeping the tree alive starts with choosing one that hasn’t turned into firewood before it leaves the lot. Your best bet is to buy a tree that is still growing and cut it yourself (or have someone cut it for you). If you are buying a pre-cut tree, make sure it is still alive and healthy. Pull on the needles. If they come off easily, it’s not in great shape. The trunk should be sticky and the limbs should be very flexible. Lift the tree and bounce the cut end on the ground. If a significant number of needles fall off, it isn’t a safe tree to take home.

Make A Fresh Cut

When you get the Christmas tree home, cut off the bottom two inches of trunk. This will create a fresh cut for the tree to soak in water. If you don’t do this, the trunk may not be able to pull in enough water to keep it moist.

Water, Water, and More Water

Watering is essential to keeping your tree green and preventing fires. Keep the water in the stand well above the fresh-cut bottom of the trunk. There is no need to put more than water in the tree stand. The tree isn’t picky about flavor, caffeine or sugar. Plain water is the best for Christmas trees.

Artificial isn’t Necessarily Better

Even though real trees pose the bigger fire threat, artificial trees are also vulnerable. It’s easy for any tree, real or artificial, to catch fire when decorators overload electrical sockets with lights. Even flame retardant or flame resistant artificial trees can eventually succumb to a fire as their resistance wears off when completely consumed in flames. By following the instructions on light packaging, you can determine how many light strings you can safely connect.

Pre-lit Artificial Trees

Pre-lit artificial trees have been recalled before, so make sure you’re tree hasn’t been recalled before using it. Even if not recalled, pre-lit artificial trees can pose electrical shock hazards and fire risks from exposed wiring, wiring that is too short, or cords that aren’t plugged in completely.

Disposal of Live Trees

The longer it sits after the holidays, the drier your tree gets and the higher your fire risk becomes. Never dispose of your tree by burning it. A burning tree is hard to control and may burn much faster than you expect. Burning tree clippings in a fireplace can result in a chimney fire. Pine and fir trees also produce a lot of creosote when burning, which can lead to deposits on the chimney that can cause fires later.

If you don’t live in an area where you can dispose of your tree naturally, most cities and towns will collect Christmas trees curbside on designated days. Check with your local municipality for Christmas tree disposal instructions specific to where you live.

Winter Holiday Fire Facts:

Christmas Trees-

*Between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10  million in direct property damage annually.

*On average, one of every 52 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 135 total reported home fires.

*Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires.

*In one-quarter (25%) of Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.

*One-fifth (21%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional.

*Roughly three-quarters of Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January.

*Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.

Holiday Decorations-

*U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 780 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2013-2017. These fires caused an annual average of three civilian fire deaths, 34 civilian fire injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage.

*9% of decoration fires were intentional.

*The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in more than two of every five (44%) fires.

*One-fifth (21%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. 16% started in the living room, family room or den.

*One-fifth (21%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December.


*On average, 22 home candle fires were reported each day between 2013-2017

*Three of every five (60%) candle fires started when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses of bedding, curtains, or decorations, was too close to the candle.

*Candle fires peak in December. January ranked second. 18% of December candle fires started in the living room and 8% started in the dining room compared to 14% and 3% for those areas during the rest of the year.

*The two peak days for candle fires were Christmas and Christmas Eve.

Holiday Cooking-

*Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

*Cooking equipment was involved in one of every five (19%) of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment.


*10% of fireworks fires occur during the period from December 30-January 3, with the peak on New Year’s Day.

*content may have been edited for design purposes

*Repost | Credit :


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