Water That Tree!
With the holiday season in full swing as decorations get put up, light displays showcased, and decorated trees become part of your living rooms landscape the Kelowna Fire Department would like to pass along some statistics and warnings to ensure your family is kept as safe as possible this holiday season.
Each year during the holiday season, fires claim the lives of over 400 people, injure over 1,650, and cause over $990,000,000 in damage. With proper care and attention these statistics can be greatly reduced by practising some simple tips offered by the United States Fire Administration (USFA).
We will begin by showing you some real time footage of how quickly a Christmas tree fire WILL spread throughout your home. Pay close attention to how the fire travels as this footage is not sped up at all:
Preventing Christmas Tree Fires
- Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
- Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
- Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
- Maintain Your Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
- Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.
- Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended
- Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
- Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace
It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers and may result in a chimney fire.
- Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
- Avoid Using Lit Candles
If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
- Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.
The Kelowna Fire Department would like to wish each and every one of you a safe and happy holiday season!
Information obtained from the USFA website