Christmas Tree and Holiday Lights and Safety

The glow of lights, the twinkle of tinsel, the smell of pine, these are just a few of our favorite things during the holidays. Decorations often play a leading role in our traditions. But, despite their twinkle and shine, holiday lights and other decorative lighting lead to 240 home fires on average each season and result in over a dozen deaths and nearly $17million in damage*. The Boise Fire Fighters Local 149 offers easy safety steps to keep the cheer in your holidays.

If decorating your home with a natural tree, be sure it is well-hydrated. A fire started in a dry tree is more likely to grow quickly than in a well-hydrated, fresh tree.

  • When selecting your tree, choose a local or u-cut tree, which should be fresher.
  • Check that your selected tree is not dried out. Needles should not break when bent, should be hard to pull from branches and no more than a few should fall off when the tree is tapped on the ground.
  • Be sure the cut end of the tree has sticky resin on it and have the seller to make a fresh cut to allow the tree to drink water better.
  • For the duration it is inside, be sure to water your tree daily or more to keep it from drying out.

Don’t be the dad in A Christmas Story – avoid overloading circuits by plugging too many sets of lights into a single extension cord.

  • Connect 3 or fewer sets of lights into a single extension cord.
  • Place extension cords along walls not under carpets and don’t use long extension cords.
  • Follow manufacturers directions and only use outdoor lights outside and indoor lights inside.

Replace old lights with new energy-efficient LED lights that use significantly less energy and emit less heat than incandescent lights.

  • As you unpack lights from last holiday season, check them for broken or damaged sockets and bulbs, exposed wires, or loose connections. Replace damaged light sets.
  • When purchasing new lights, look for the “UL” symbol to ensure the lights have been tested by the Underwriters Laboratories for safety.
  • Turn lights off when you leave or go to bed and keep lights and breakable ornaments out of reach of young children.
  • Never use candles to decorate trees.

Be sure you can get out of your home if a fire occurs!

  • You and your loved ones are the most important thing. Don’t save your tree or presents. Get out!
  • Keep exits clear of the tree or furniture when making room for the tree.
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms in your home.
  • Help yourself first so that you can help your loved ones to your fullest ability.
  • Cover your mouth and crawl to an exit.

A few last tips:

  • Minimize potential hot spots. Keep your tree out of corners and away from heating vents, radiators and fireplaces and potential fuel for the fire (tables, couches, chairs)
  • Dispose of your tree safely, do not keep it indoors for longer than 2 weeks and take it to a recycling or compost service; don’t burn branches

These safety tips are brought to you by Boise Fire Fighters Local 149 and FEMA.

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