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reviewed 8/9/2018

Avoid holiday fires

Tips for tress, candles and lights.

Trees

200 home fires involving Christmas trees occur each year.

To avoid fire:

  • Choose a fresh tree. Look for green needles that are hard to pull from branches and don't break when bent. The trunk should be sticky.
  • Take the tree down after the holiday. Don't burn it in a fireplace or stove.
  • Keep the tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heat can dry out a tree and make it more flammable.
  • Water the tree daily.

Candles

8,690 home fires involving candles are reported each year (December is the peak month for candle fires).

To avoid fire:

  • Place candles where they can't be knocked down or blown over.
  • Consider using battery-operated candles instead of real ones.
  • Keep candles away from flammable decorations (including trees).
  • Extinguish candles when you leave the room.
  • Use nonflammable candle holders.

Lights

840 home fires involving decorations occur each year.

To avoid fire:

  • Check new and old lights for broken sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Dispose of damaged lights.
  • Make sure outdoor lights are certified for that use.
  • Choose decoration that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
  • Turn lights off before you go to bed or leave the house.

Sources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; U.S. Fire Administration

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