By now we have all put up our annual Christmas tree decorated with our favorite bulbs, ornaments and sparkly lights. Underneath neatly stacked are beautifully wrapped gifts and the house smells like fresh baked cookies and Christmas tree! What you probably won’t be thinking about is whether your tree is a safety hazard. That beautiful Christmas tree can become very dangerous.
The national Institute of Standards and Technology produced a video several years ago demonstrating how quickly a dry tree catches fire. It took only four minutes from the moment a shorted-out Christmas light emitted a spark until the tree was engulfed in flames. In less than minute, the entire living room was on fire.
With these few simple tips you can greatly reduce your risk of fire:
1. Do not use electric lights on a metallic tree. If there is a short the tree can become energized and electrocute anyone who touches it.
2. Avoid running cords under rugs or furniture, because they can overheat and malfunction. Malfunctioning electrical equipment in the vicinity of a dry Christmas tree is like striking a match over a pile of wood.
3. Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are the most common culprits of holiday fires. A good rule of thumb is to connect no more than 3 strands of lights together.
4. Keep your tree hydrated to prevent it from drying out too quickly. Check the water in the tree stand every few days and refill when necessary.
5. Make sure your tree lights are UL listed for indoor use. Inspect your lights before using them- are they frayed, kinked, cracked, or are their any broken bulbs? If yes, don’t use them!
6. Keep your tree away from space heaters, heat vents, exposed outlets, and not blocking any exits.