WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – With the holiday season underway, ensure your family’s warmth during the winter months while saving them from the unknown dangers of Christmas tree fires by following these simple steps.

Whether it’s a 5-foot tall Douglas-fir or a blue spruce the size of the National Christmas Tree, the Prince William County Fire Department warns that fires started by the piney trees you drag into your home each December tend to be more deadly than typical home fires.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, between 2005 and 2009, fire departments across the country responded to an average of 240 home fires that originated from Christmas trees.

These fires resulted in an annual average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries and more than $16 million in property damage, and the danger they present for homeowners is far greater than that of your average fire.

In the same years mentioned, one out of every eighteen home Christmas tree fires resulted in death, in contrast to one death out of every 141 common house fires.

The reason being: trees provide an unusually large amount of fuel and a fire ignited by one can spread through a room in a matter of seconds, leaving little time to escape a burning home safely.

Following these tips will help ensure the safety of you and your family:

  • Keep trees well-watered.
  • Make sure your tree stand holds at least one gallon of water. Stands should provide ¼ of water per inch of the trunk size of the tree. The average 6-foot tree can consume up to one gallon of water per day.
  • At minimum, keep your tree three feet from all heat sources, i.e. fireplaces, heating vents, radiators, electric heaters, kerosene heaters, etc. 20 percent of Christmas tree fires start when a heat source is too close to the tree.
  • Set your tree in an area where it will not block exits.
  • Be sure lights and electrical cords are in good working condition, and replace lights that have worn cords or loose bulb connections. Nearly half of all Christmas tree fires involve some sort of electrical failure or malfunction. Turn off tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Check your tree for fresh green needles and discard of the tree when it gets dry. A tree set up during Thanksgiving should come down prior to New Years.

By following these simple steps, you can prevent your Christmas tree from becoming a fire hazard, ensuring the safety of your family for another year.


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