Holiday Season Safety Tips, Facts and Figures
Gale Blomenkamp, Assistant Chief/PIO - Monday, December 14, 2015

What is a holiday party or even the traditional Christmas morning without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household, like more than 33 million other American homes, includes a live tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion—“Keep the tree watered.”

Below you will find some national facts and figures published by the National Fire Protection Association on fires during the Holiday Season:

• Between 2005 and 2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 240 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries and $16.7 million in direct property damage annually.
• On average, one in every 18 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death.
• Electrical problems were factors in one-third of home Christmas tree structure fires.

• Twenty percent of the Christmas tree fires resulted from a heat source placed too close to the tree.
• Holiday lights (or other decorative lighting with live voltage) were involved in 13% of the home Christmas tree structure fires.
• Candles were the heat source in 11% of the home Christmas tree fires per year between 2005 and 2009.

The Boone County Fire Protection District would like to offer some Holiday Season Safety Tips and Christmas tree reminders to help combat fire hazards:

• If you have not done so, have your chimney and or flu inspected by a professional service provider prior to using your fireplace or wood-burning stove each year.
• Do not burn gift-wrapping or old Christmas trees in the fireplace, as this may cause a chimney fire.
• If you experience a chimney fire or flu fire, DO NOT POUR WATER down your chimney. Call 911 and have your local Fire Department come and extinguish the fire and check for extension of the fire into your attic area.
• Decorate Christmas trees with consumer-inspected lights (such as Underwriters Laboratory-UL) and double-check for frayed wires.
• Do not overload electrical outlets. Multi plug adapters can overload a circuit and present a significant fire hazard.
• Keep presents away from the tree lights.
• Keep the tree well watered. The average tree will use about a quart of water every day. A well-watered tree can last up to five weeks without drying out. Dry trees burn explosively.
• If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is labeled flame or fire retardant.
• Do not place the tree within three feet of any heat source such as a fireplace, space heater or a heat register. Not only is it dangerous but it can cause the tree to dry out more quickly. Never place a tree near an exit.
• If you burn candles, keep them in a safe place away from any flammable material. Be sure all children know the dangers of candles, chafing dishes, potpourri scent pots, the fireplace and space heaters.
• Keep clutter away from the stove while cooking. If grease catches fire, do not throw water on it. Cover the pan with a lid, turn off the burner and call 911. In order to avoid injury due to spilling, turn pot handles in towards the stove and never wear loose clothing while cooking. Do not leave cooking food unattended. Unattended cooking is the most common cause of cooking-related fires.
• Buy and install smoke detectors one on every level of the home and inside all sleeping areas rooms. If you already have them, clean and test them and replace the batteries. Working smoke detectors can double your chances of survival.
• Practice home fire drills. Designate two exits from every room, make sure all family members are aware of the outside meeting place, and get out quickly and call 911 from a neighbor’s phone or cell phone.

As the Holiday Season comes to an end and it is time to take down your Christmas tree, remember to dispose of the live trees appropriately. The best way to do this is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a local pick-up service. You can also check with your local Division of Wildlife for possible off points.

The Boone County Fire Protection District would like to wish everyone a Safe and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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