October is Fire Prevention Month: American Christmas Tree Association Recommends Special Care For A Fire Safe Holiday Season

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The American Christmas Tree Association wants to help families be fire safe during the holiday season by taking extra precautions with their real and artificial Christmas trees, ornaments, lighting and other holiday decor.

'Take a few simple precautions now for a fire safe holiday season,' said Jami Warner, Executive Director of the American Christmas Tree Association.

The American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) wants to remind early birds who have already begun preparations for the Christmas holiday season to take special precautions now to be fire-safe.

"Christmas trees, holiday ornaments, and other Christmas decorations are already on full display in the stores, even though we're just getting our costumes ready for Halloween," said Jami Warner, Executive Director of ACTA. "When shopping for holiday decorations, we want to remind consumers to look for high quality decorations, whether they be trees, wreaths, lights or ornaments, take care to utilize them according to the manufacturers directions, and make sure they are placed in safe areas of the home," Warner said.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the following tips will help your family have a safe and joyous holiday season:

Selecting a Tree for the Holiday:
Needles on real 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 Real 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 fresh water at all times.

Caring for Your Artificial Tree:
If you are using an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled flame retardant. As with a real Christmas tree, do not place your artificial tree near a flame or other heat source.

Disposing of Your Tree:
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning 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.

Holiday Lights:
Maintain your holiday lights by closely inspecting them 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.

Holiday Decorations:
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.

Candle Care:
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.

For more information, visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov.

About ACTA:
The American Christmas Tree Association is a non-profit organization with a mission to help consumers make informed decisions about Christmas trees. For more information, visit http://www.christmastreeassociation.org.

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