December 1st, 2018, Minneapolis, Minnesota:
Christmas tree lights are twinkling. A turkey is roasting in the oven. Family have gathered. Like you, I look forward to these memory-making experiences when the holidays roll around.
Yet the holidays can also be a dangerous time of year. I don’t want to be a Grinch, but I want your families and business to be safe, so here are some serious facts you need to know.
- Between 2011-2015, an average of 200 home fires per year were started by Christmas trees. They caused an average of six deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually.
- Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 40 percent of home Christmas tree fires.
- In 26 percent of the Christmas tree fires and 80 percent of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
To be honest, I’m afraid of live Christmas trees in the house. When I was 12 and living in New Jersey, my best friend died in a fire started by a Christmas tree. It happened in 1975, but a tragedy like that impacts you forever. In fact, it had a role in my advocacy for fire safety.
I know many people love live trees, and can’t imagine Christmas without them. As a result, real trees have always out-sold fake trees. The National Christmas Tree Association reported that in 2017, 27.4 million real Christmas trees were purchased, compared to 21.1 million fake trees.
For those who love to bring the aroma of fresh evergreen indoors (and don’t mind an occasional needle in their foot!), I’ve compiled tips to keep your home and office safe this holiday season.
CHRISTMAS TREE CARE
- Water live trees daily.
- Consider having a humidifier close by.
- Make sure the light cords aren’t frayed or power strips aren’t overloaded. LED lights are pretty safe and do not get very hot. Incandescent lights can get hot enough to burn or ignite decorations.
- Place gifts under the tree away from power strips, outlets and lighting.
- Trees should be at least three feet away from heat vents, space heaters, radiators, baseboard heating, and fireplaces. I recommend candles be at least six feet away.
- Avoid placing trees in room corners; fires that start in corners get hot quickly and spread faster than those near a flat wall.
- The tree should never block exits from the room.
- Don’t leave the lights on all night.
PARTY TIME PRECAUTIONS
Family and office parties can be a source of fires, especially when a lot of people do a lot of cooking using portable appliances like hot plates, warming trays, crock pots, and small ovens.
- Make sure the equipment is in good working condition.
- Don’t use hot plugs.
- Be sure electrical cords are in good shape and work.
- Don’t overload the power strips and sockets.
- Keep trash away from the power strips and outlets.
Also, it’s crucial to have a fire extinguisher close to the Christmas tree and kitchen/party room. Be sure the extinguisher is accessible, charged, and someone knows how to operate it. Check the batteries and operation of all smoke and CO detectors.
NEED A GIFT IDEA?
If you want to give a unique and potentially life-saving gift, consider a quality fire extinguisher. The Pyrochem or Amerex brands are popular and effective. Just be sure they have a metal mechanism that attaches to the cylinder, not plastic. Benefits of these extinguishers are:
The rule of thumb in maintaining an operational fire extinguisher is to inspect it once a year, recharge it every six years, and rebuild or replace it every 12 years.
What happens when you have an old extinguisher? After I gave my father-in-law a new Amerex fire extinguisher, I checked the old one. When I activated it, a pathetic puff about the size of an egg sputtered out. Not good.
Finally, from the Brothers Fire & Security family, we hope you have safe holiday season that’s filled with wonderful experiences and treasured memories.
ABOUT BROTHERS FIRE & SECURITY
As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods.