We don’t want to spoil the fun, but the statistics on accidents relating to trees and decorations make for some unpleasant reading: 25 deaths and more than $100m losses from candle-related fires every year, and 14,000 decoration-related injuries.
Here are a dozen tips from the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the National Fire Protection Association:
- If you buy a live tree make sure it's fresh (needles hard to remove). Dried out trees catch fire more easily.
- Don’t set up your tree near a fire or other heat source. Keep it in a water-filled stand and check it every day.
- If you buy an artificial tree, make sure it's labeled "fire resistant" –though be warned that doesn't mean it won't catch fire.
- Avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations if you have small children, and put trimmings with removable parts out of reach.
- Keep lit candles within sight at all times -- and extinguish them before you go to bed.
- Place candles on secure, heat-resistant surfaces, out of range from children and pets and away from furnishings.
- Make sure your lights have a nationally-recognized testing accreditation – like the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo.
- Whether new or old, check your lighting sets for broken or cracked sockets, exposed wires or loose connections. Dispose of damaged sets. Don't use lights on a metallic tree.
- Inspect any extension cord you use with your tree. Make sure it's okay for the intended use and don’t use damaged cords.
- Check outdoor lights are approved and certified for use outside. Plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.
- Take special care with "fire salts", which produce colored flames when thrown onto wood fires. Keep away from children.
- Don’t throw wrapping paper onto the fire. It can ignite suddenly and burn intensely, increasing the risk of an accidental blaze.
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