Avoid Devastating Winter Home Fires

Fall and winter are the most popular times of the year for special home decorating, and entertaining. Each year, fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in property damage. Here are ways you can ensure a safe and happy holiday:Christmas Tree

Is the tree too close to the fireplace?



    • Buy a freshly-cut tree
    • Green needles, hard to pull back from the branches and almost impossible to break (TIP: If needles fall off when you bounce the tree on the ground, don’t buy it!)
    • The trunk should feel sticky

    • Re-trim the base of the tree immediately before putting it in the stand filled with water
      • Verify that the tree is secured by all of the locking bolts
      • Keep the tree watered; check it every day, at least twice a day
      • Keep the tree away from all heat sources and flames (candles, cigars and cigarettes, lighters, matches, and the fireplace)
      • Never use burning candles on the tree
    • Keep the tree up for only two weeks (if it starts to lose needles before two weeks has passed, dispose of it immediately)
    • Carefully dispose of the tree
    • Do not put branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove
    • Do not leave it at the curb, unless your local garbage utility agrees to take it
  • Take it, or have it hauled to a recycling center


    • Inspect wiring for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive wear before installing them
    • Use only UL-approved lighting
    • Do not leave holiday lights unattended
    • Do not overload electrical circuits
    • Do not link more than three light strands, unless manufacturers’ directions indicate it is safe
    • Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the wall outlet
  • Check the wires periodically, and turn them off if they’re warm to the touch


    • Use only nonflammable and/or flame-retardant decorations (including artificial trees and greenery)
    • Never burn wrapping paper or ribbons in a fireplace
  • Candles
    • Avoid open flames, if possible
    • Do not leave burning candles unattended
    • Use stable holders that will not allow the candles to be knocked off
    • Snuff out the flame; don’t blow it out

There is another blog, “Fall-Winter Health Tips,” written to help you enjoy the Holidays.

Warmest Wishes for a Healthy, Safe, and Happy Holiday Season!
Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ.

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