12/10/2019- Deck the halls, but do it safely- that’s the message from Wisconsin Emergency Management this holiday season. Christmas trees are a common source of fires in the home this time of year. In fact, there were an average of 160 home fires nationwide each year between 2013 and 2017 and Andrew Beckett with Ready Wisconsin says there are a few things to keep in mind to prevent those holiday decorations from becoming a holiday disaster.
“During the holiday season one of the biggest fire hazards that people bring into their home is a Christmas tree. We really want people to be taking steps in order to make sure that they’re being fire safe with where they place it, how it’s decorated, and what is near it. Live trees, especially, can dry out very easily. They should be watered daily and they should be kept at least three feet away from any source of heat or flame.”
And, being mindful of what you put on your tree is as important as what’s around it. Beckett says people should inspect their holiday lights each year and replace any strands that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
“Look for things like frayed connections, bulbs that won’t stay lit even if you replace them- those can all be signs of electrical issues. Electrical problems are pretty much the leading cause of fires when it comes to trees, so they should be inspected yearly and if you notice problems with them, such as the wires getting hot when they’re in use, they should be thrown out. You also want to make sure that you never connect more than three strands of lights together unless the manufacturer’s specifications indicate that you can have more strands connected.”
Lastly, candles are another major source of holiday house fires and most home fires caused by candles occur on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and News Year’s Day. Burning candles should never be left unattended or in a place where children or pets could accidentally knock them over. Instead of lighting real candles, Beckett suggests residents consider using battery-operated flameless candles in their place.