NFPA encourages prompt removal now that the holidays are over
BREVARD COUNTY – Nearly a third of all home fires in the nation occur in January and they start with a Christmas tree.
The National Fire Protection Association warns that the longer a natural Christmas tree is left in place inside your home after Christmas, the more likely it is to dry out and ignite.
NFPA is strongly encouraging people to remove their Christmas trees from their homes promptly now that the holiday season has ended.
“All Christmas trees can burn, but a dried-out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “In a year where many people began decorating their homes earlier than usual, trees have been in homes longer than usual, presenting an increased fire risk as the days go by.”
Each year between 2014 and 2018 an average of 160 home fires began when a Christmas tree caught fire, according to NFPA’s latest Christmas Tree Fire report. Those fires caused two deaths, 14 injuries, and $10.3 million in property damage.
Although Christmas tree fires make up only a small part of the total number of home fires they are notable considering that Christmas trees are generally in use for a short time each year.
“While we know Christmas tree fires don’t occur very often compared to other types of home fires, deadly incidents involving multiple people, including young children, have been reported in recent years,” said Carli. “Our goal is to minimize the likelihood of these kinds of tragedies from happening.”
Some Christmas tree fires occur in chimneys or flues but the U.S. Forest Service cautions – “Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove! Pines, firs and other evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oils and burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire.”
NFPA recommends that you contact a local community recycling program for guidance on safely disposing of your Christmas tree,
Trees should not be put in the garage or left outside.
Tips for safely taking down your tree and storing your lightening and decorations:
-Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations.
-Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet because that can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.
-As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
-Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.
-Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.
The National Fire Protection Association was founded in 1896. NFPA is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. For more information go to www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.