Christmas trees are among the most popular decorations of yuletide, but they also can be deadly. In 2000-2004 on average, one out of every 22 Christmas tree fires in homes resulted in a death, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
NFPA statistics show that, on average, live and artificial Christmas trees are the ignition sources of 300 reported U.S. home structure fires each year resulting in 14 fatalities, 21 injuries and $16.8 million in property damage.
In addition, 44 percent of Christmas tree fires are caused by an electrical problem or malfunction. Decorators should make sure that any electrical cords they are use are in good working order.
This video produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology shows the devastation that occurs in less than a minute as a result of a Christmas tree igniting in the home.
Holiday Fire Safety
Each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
Christmas Tree Fire Hazards -
A live Christmas tree can become fully engulfed in flames. 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.