October is Fire Prevention Month – American Christmas Tree Association Reminds Families to Take Holiday Precautions Now

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With the holiday season fast approaching, the American Christmas Tree Association reminds consumers to consider special pre-holiday fire-safety precautions now.

"Look for high quality holiday trees and decorations and take care to utilize them according to the manufacture's directions," said Jami Warner, Executive Director of ACTA.

The American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) is reminding consumers who have already begun preparations for the Christmas holiday season to take special precautions now to be fire-safe for the holidays.

“It’s not hard to notice that holiday ornaments, trees and other Christmas decorations are already on display in the stores, even though we’ve just said goodbye to summer,” 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, and to take care to utlize them according to the manufacturers directions, as well as place them in safe areas of the home,” Warner said.

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

Christmas Tree Fire Hazards

  •     Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

Selecting a Tree for the Holiday

  •     Needles on fresh 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 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 water at all times.

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. Inspect holiday lights 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.
  •     Artificial Christmas Trees . If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

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.

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