The flickering candle flames, the smell of pine and the twinkling lights are part of many celebrations this time of year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one in four Christmas tree fires in a home resulted from a heat source placed too close to a tree. Make sure your home is safe this holiday season.
Trees - Make sure your artificial tree is labeled "fire resistant." This doesn't mean it won't catch fire, but it is more resistant to burning. Check live trees for freshness. You can do this by checking the flexibility of the needles and tapping the trunk on the ground. If it drops a lot of needles then it is already dry. Keep your live tree watered and when the needles begin to fall it is time to take it out of the house. Place your tree away from all heat sources in your home.
Decorations and Lights - Decorate your tree and house with flame-resistant decorations. Avoid using tinsel if you have small children or pets in your home. Both can be attracted to shiny things and may ingest it. Discard lights with frayed or broken cords.
Keep electrical cords away from pets who may chew on them. Don't overload your electrical circuits. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree; if the lights are faulty, the tree can become charged with electricity and electrocute anyone touching a branch. Turn your lights off when leaving your home or going to sleep to avoid fire hazards.
Fireplace and Space Heaters - Before you decide to build the first fire of the season, get a professional to clean your chimney. Always use a screen in front of a burning fire. Don't burn wrapping paper or tree branches. Keep space heaters away from the tree, packages and other combustibles in your home. Never leave a fire burning in the fireplace or a space heater on when leaving your home or going to sleep.
Candles - Never leave lighted candles unattended. Keep lit candles out of reach of children. Never use lit candles on your tree.
Plants - Keep children and pets from eating holiday plants, such as mistletoe, poinsettias and holly. Many of these plants are poisonous.
Guests - Use night lights in the hall and bathroom so guests don't trip in the dark. Encourage guests who smoke to do so outdoors. Provide them with an appropriate container for the ashes.
Safety Plan - Check the batteries in your smoke alarm. Make sure everyone in your home knows the fire escape plan. Install a carbon monoxide detector.
Make this a safe Christmas. Give smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors and escape ladders as gifts. Don't forget to include batteries!