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Friday October 23, 2020 Salt Lake City, UT

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Protecting Utah

Holiday Fire Safety

Monday December 10, 2018

The Utah Department of Public Safety’s Fire Marshal’s Office wants to ensure your holiday festivities aren’t ruined with a tragic house fire. There are simple ways to safe guard your home and help prevent holiday decorations or trees from turning disastrous.  

Christmas tree fires present real risk towards family and friends. When showcasing a live tree in your home, the combination of tree dryness, electrical malfunction with lights and poorly located heating sources can make for a deadly combination.

The facts below will lead you in the right direction this holiday season. 

Facts about home holiday fires

  • One of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires.
  • The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.
  • Candles start two out of five home decoration structure fires.

How to properly maintain your tree

  • Picking Your Tree
    • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Placing Your Tree
    • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
    • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
    • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
    • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
  • Lighting Your Tree
    • Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
    • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
    • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
    • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • After the Holidays
    • Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.
    • Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

See for yourself how quickly a tree could light up in flames if not properly maintained. The video below as produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

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