- Between 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually.
- On average, one of every 40 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.
- Electrical problems were factors in one-third (32%) of home Christmas tree structure fires.
- Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
Source: NFPA’s “Home Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Fires” by John R. Hall, Jr., November 2013.
These facts and figures can be frightening and ruin the happiest occasion. A few simple preventative steps can allow you to enjoy your Holiday instead of turning it into a tragedy.
- When shopping for lights, electric decorations and extension cords, purchase only the ones that are UL-listed
- If you’re planning to decorate outdoors, make sure that you use lights and decorations that are rated for outdoor use. Putting indoor-only products outside in the weather can result in electric shock and fire hazards.
- If you’re in doubt as to whether light strings are rated for indoor or outdoor use, just check the color-coded UL mark on the product’s package. A green holographic UL mark says, “indoors only, please,” while a red one indicates that the product is safe for both indoor and outdoor use.
- Whether they’re brand-new out of the box or seasoned veterans from holidays past, before you put them up, inspect all lights, electric decorations and extension cords for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs, and bulbs. If the damage can be repaired (i.e. broken bulbs replaced), do not use the item until the repair has been made. If cords and plugs are damaged, discard and replace the decoration.
- Always unplug lights before changing bulbs, replacing fuses, or making any other repairs.
- If you need to replace a bulb in a string of Christmas lights, make sure that the wattage rating of the replacement bulb you’re using matches that of the light strand. Using a bulb with too high a wattage can cause the light string to overheat, creating a fire risk.
- Use hooks made to safely hang your Christmas lights without piercing the cables or breaking them.
These few simple precautions can make your Holiday bright. Check out our video on YouTube for more ways to keep you and your family safe at Tips from Barrs Insurance to Prevent Christmas Tree Fires