How to Prevent a Christmas Tree Fire

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There are approximately 160 Christmas tree fires a year in the U.S.

Christmas brings hope, love, joy and tradition.  Trees are adorned with sparkling lights, colorful ornaments and holiday garlands. Decorations are placed on mantles with holiday towns, Nativity sets and candles bringing home the smell of gingerbread and cider. No one can ever anticipate the danger that lurks in the homes of millions of people during the holiday season.  

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 160 home fires a year that start with Christmas trees. These fires have caused death, injury and millions of dollars in damages. Almost half of those fires are caused by electrical distribution or lighting equipment and more than a fifth of Christmas tree fires are caused by some type of heat, such as a candle, too close to the tree.

Here are some fire prevention tips to keeping your home safe this Christmas from Battalion Chief and Fire Marshal for the Burbank Fire Department, Mark Hatch.

– Before placing a real tree in the stand, cut 1-2″ from the base of the trunk.

– Make sure the tree is at least 3′ away from a heat source like a floor furnace or candle.

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– Always turn off the tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.

– Be sure a tree is not blocking an exit.

– Add water to the tree daily and monitor for drying out of the tree.

– Remove the tree when it becomes dry.

-Reasonable life of a live tree is 4 weeks if properly cared for.

– Make sure your home has working smoke detectors with a fresh battery.

– Look for recycling of trees in the community.

Burbank Fire Marshall/ Battalion Chief Mark Hatch was Principal for a Day at Washington Elementary School. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Hatch runs the Fire Prevention Bureau for Burbank and says that a dry Christmas tree can ignite very easily and burn quickly, igniting other things in the home at a rapid pace. “This can easily result in unnecessary death, injury and huge property loss to the community.  Be vigilant and safe in your planning so you can enjoy your family through the holiday season without worry,” adds Hatch.