Home Fires And The Risks To Your Family’s Safety

Home Fires And The Risks To Your Family’s Safety


House fires can quickly become deadly at any time of the year, but it seems that the holiday season has a disproportionate number of fires due to flammable decorations, unsafe Christmas lights, dried out Christmas trees, and other hazards.

Christmas Tree OrnamentAccording to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) fires involving Christmas trees kill fifteen people on average each year in addition to causing $13 million in damage.

To that end, the CPSC is offering ten timely tips to help homeowners stay safe this Christmas season:

1. When purchasing an artificial tree, DO look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree is more resistant to catching fire.

2. When purchasing a live tree, DO check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

3. When setting up a tree at home, DO place it away from heat sources such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Because heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, be sure to monitor water levels and keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic, and do not block doorways.

4. In homes with small children, DO take special care to avoid sharp, weighted or breakable decorations, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children who could swallow or inhale small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.

5. Indoors or outside, DO use only lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL/ITSNA.

6. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. DON’T use electric lights on a metallic tree.

7. If using an extension cord, DO make sure it is rated for the intended use.

8. When using lights outdoors, DO check labels to be sure the lights have been certified for outdoor use and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.

9. Keep burning candles within sight. DO extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room or leave the house.

10. DO keep lighted candles away from items that can catch fire and burn easily, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.

You can obtain a free brochure with more holiday decorating safety tips at CPSC’s web site www.cpsc.gov (PDF).

Adv. – Christmas is almost here! Have you finished your shopping yet? If not, there is still some time for you to find bargains online and have those items shipped to your home before December 25th, but you must act quickly. Please visit the NBuy Shopping Plaza to find more than 5,000 online retailers; download your free copy of our shopping list while you’re at it.

Photo Credit:  Mother of 9


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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".