State Fire Marshal Urges Consumers to Keep Safety in Mind This Holiday Season

Water Christmas trees daily, check lights and cords, use caution with candles

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

December 19, 2017 - ‘Tis the season to water your Christmas tree daily, and use caution with candles and electric lights. The holidays are a peak time for home fires caused by Christmas tree and candle fires.

“A dry Christmas tree is extremely flammable and these types of fires can turn deadly within seconds, allowing you little time to escape. Keep the tree well-watered, don’t risk the chance of fire and the loss of family, friends or your home,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. “One of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems or a heat source too close to the tree. Check your electrical lights and cords for possible deficiencies. Shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches are also common causes of tree and house fires this time of year.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, candles start two out of five home decoration structure fires, with the top three days for home candle fires being Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve. “People can often fall asleep or leave home with unattended candles left burning,” said Sehlmeyer. “Keep candles away from the tree and from anything that can catch fire, such as decorations, curtains and furniture -- and up high enough away from children and pets. Battery operated, flameless candles are another option.”

Keep these fire safety tips in mind for a safe holiday season:

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Prior to placing the tree in a stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet from any heat source such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure that the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand daily.
  • Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory and that you distinguish between indoor and outdoor lights.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturers’ instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • USE LIT CANDLES TO DECORATE YOUR TREE.
  • Always turn off tree lights when going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Don’t overload your electrical socket.
  • Discard your tree after the holidays at a tree recycling program in your community.

“Be sure your smoke alarms are in working order, have a fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it,” Sehlmeyer said. “Have a prepared and practiced home escape plan, with two ways out of your home that will help ensure your survival in a home fire.”

A live Christmas tree burn conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows just how quickly a dried-out Christmas tree fire burns, with flashover occurring in less than one minute, as compared to a tree watered regularly. Watch the video to see how Christmas tree fires can turn devastating and deadly within seconds.

The Michigan Bureau of Fire Services wishes all Michigan citizens a safe holiday season. Visit the Bureau of Fire Services website for more fire safety information.

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