Written by: William Sergio
What would Christmas be like without lights? Imagine a Christmas without any colorful miniature light bulbs. Would that even be Christmas? Anyways, Christmas and lights go hand in hand. These beautiful and colorful lights are plastered all over our walls, doors, windows, and Christmas trees. Other than raising our electric bill, we are increasing the chances of starting a fire.
From 2014-2018, United States fire departments dealt with an average of 200 home fires that were started by Christmas trees per year. The damages of these fires were about $10 million in direct property damages annually, about 2 deaths, and about 14 injuries. All of this can be avoided by employing some basic safety measures to prevent your Christmas tree from catching on fire.
5 Ways to Prevent Christmas Tree Fires
1. Pick a Christmas tree that has fresh green needles.
There are a million and one different places that you can go to buy a Christmas tree. Some places have better quality trees. Some places have dry trees that they will try to sell for a discount. If it is the beginning of December, don’t buy a tree that is dying even if it is cheaper. A dry and dying Christmas tree with brown needles is more likely to catch fire.
2. Put your Christmas tree at least 3 feet away from a heat source
The easiest way that a Christmas tree can catch on fire is if you place it close to a heat source. The worst place to position your Christmas tree would be right next to your fireplace. Also, you should avoid smoking next to your Christmas tree. Don’t smoke and leave an ashtray right next to your tree.
3. Make sure your tree isn’t blocking any exits
The reason that you don’t want your Christmas tree to block any exits is because if the tree catches fire: how will you escape? If you have no way of putting the fire out and it spreads, you could be in real big trouble. It is never a good idea to ever block any exits in your house.
4. Make sure to water fresh trees everyday
Watering your Christmas tree daily is important because it will prevent your tree from drying out. A dry Christmas tree is a lot more likely to catch fire. One possible solution to this problem is to buy a fake Christmas tree. Plastic Christmas trees are less likely to catch fire. They are also not as messy, but that’s another story.
5. Before you leave your house or go to bed, TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!
The actual reason why Christmas lights start a fire isn’t the actual lights getting too hot. The actual reason is an electrical fire may start from having too many lights plugged into one extension cord or outlet.
Circuit Tips to Prevent a Fire
Homes in Florida typically have either 15-amp or 20-amp circuits. The maximum capacity of a 15-amp circuit is about 1800 and it is important to know what kind of circuits you have in your home or business. Typically you only want to use up to 80 percent of max capacity. So if you have a 15-amp circuit you want to top off around 13-amps because you don’t want to blow a circuit and start a fire. So how can you tell how many amps your circuits have? You need to look at the outlets in your home. If your socket is in the shape of a T (T-Shape), then it will be a 20-amp circuit.
The circuit breaker will usually shut the power off to all outlets when you exceed the max circuit. Don’t ignore it when all the lights in your house turn off when you turn on your Christmas lights. This is a sign that your circuit is overloaded. The best thing is to try and relocate some of your household appliances.
How do we know so much about fires and fire safety? Well, one of the founders of BioResponse Restoration was a firefighter. Throughout his 20 year career, he saw it all and witnessed that fires are started all the time by not taking certain precautions. Usually a fire starts because of some kind of human error. Preventing fires saves lives and damages to property/belongings. Never throw caution to the wind when it comes to fire safety.
Unfortunately, we have seen firsthand the damages that are caused by Christmas tree fires. Our company cleans, disinfects, and remediates properties that have been in fires. Not only will you lose your belongings, but the water damage from them putting out the fire will cause other problems such as mold. Granted, your insurance company will most likely cover this. This is not a hassle you want to deal with. Avoid all of this by following our 5 ways to prevent Christmas tree fires.