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.
- Information and video clips demonstrating the power of a tree on fire
- US Fire Administration provides additional tips on tree, light, decorations and gifts safety
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology have a series of videos that show side-by-side comparisons of a dry tree vs. a hydrated tree when they catch fire
- Data from the National Fire Protection Association