Of all the yuletide traditions, perhaps none is more popular than a beautifully illuminated Christmas tree. Unfortunately, the combination of a real tree and festive, electric lights can pose a real fire hazard if you’re not careful.
Some families invest in reusable, artificial Christmas trees for safety and security, but, for others, nothing can replace the real thing. Thankfully, with the proper care and vigilance, an authentic Christmas tree can safely light up your home. Follow our tips to ensure you and your family have a safe holiday season.
How Do Christmas Tree Fires Start?
Christmas tree fires are among the most common causes of home structure fires during the winter holidays. Home fires started by Christmas trees are three times more expensive and eight times more likely to result in fatalities. So, they must be taken very seriously.
Most tree fires begin because the tree is too old or too dry, making it more susceptible to flames and heat. A fire can also start because of the tree’s placement near candles, electric decorations, and other hazards.
Forgetting to water your tree can significantly contribute to its aging and dryness. An unwatered tree will dry up in a short amount of time and be much more likely to catch fire. Additionally, dying trees will drop more pine needles and branches, posing additional fire and choking hazards.
It’s important to remember that indoor Christmas trees are already dying — you’re just trying to keep it alive longer. Forgetting to water your tree for even one day can have irreversible effects and significantly reduce its lifespan.
Unfortunately, trees aren’t the only holiday fire hazard. Every year, US fire departments respond to about 150 home fires from Christmas trees and nearly 800 fires started by other holiday decorations. And even if it doesn’t start the fire, a dry Christmas tree can cause flames to spread quickly, so you must care for it all season long.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips
Regularly watering your Christmas tree is essential to your holiday safety and security because a well-hydrated tree is much less likely to catch fire. Most Christmas tree bases can hold enough water to last the tree for at least a day, so be sure to fill the base completely. Water your tree daily using cool water, and monitor how much water it consumes as you go.
Check out these additional Christmas tree tips:
- Don’t put your tree up too early. Some families chop down their trees right after Thanksgiving, leaving them dry, brown, and flammable weeks before Christmas. Consider waiting until around mid-December before putting up a real Christmas tree.
- Select a fresh and healthy tree. If you plan to keep your tree up for over a week, look for one with vibrant green needles that are hard to pull off, indicating freshness. In addition, search for dead branches, brown needles, and other warning signs that the tree is dying.
- Chop down your own tree. Chopping down the tree yourself guarantees it remains fresh for as long as possible. Plus, you can typically select a better tree if you cut it down yourself.
- Place the tree away from heat sources. Set your tree up at least three feet from candles, heaters, fireplaces, and other heat sources to minimize the risk of accidental fires.
- Double-check your lights. Untangle and test holiday lights before stringing them around the tree. Ensure all lights work and look for signs of damage, such as broken bulbs, frayed wires, or loose sockets. Replace any faulty lights or cords to reduce the risk of electrical fires, and use indoor-rated lights for indoor trees.
- Don’t overload electric outlets. With so many decorations to show off, it’s easy to overload your electrical outlets. Avoid attaching too many lights and electronics to individual circuits, and consider investing in power strips and surge protectors to distribute the load evenly and prevent electrical hazards.
- Keep a safe distance. Position your Christmas tree at a safe distance from curtains, furniture, and other flammable objects to prevent accidental fires.
- Turn the lights off. While neighbors may love to see your tree, keeping the lights on constantly increases the risk of fire. Turn off your Christmas tree lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Set a schedule to water your tree. Depending on the size of your base, water your tree at least once a day. Set a schedule with your family to guarantee your tree remains well-hydrated. Additionally, remove obstacles that could keep you from accessing the base to water the tree.
- Watch out for children and pets. The Christmas tree may be exciting for children and pets, but if they break or remove lights and ornaments, it can create a safety hazard. Supervise young children and consider blocking pets out of the room. You can also secure the tree with fishing line or wall brackets to prevent accidents, especially if your children or pets might be tempted to climb or pull on the tree.
- Check your tree throughout the season. Different types of trees may dry out faster than others and become more flammable. Monitor your tree’s branches and needles throughout the holiday season, noting their color and durability. Then, remove or replace the tree, if needed.
- Take down your tree after the holidays. While every family is different, some people keep their Christmas decorations up well after the new year. Unfortunately, most real Christmas trees cannot safely last that long, so your tree should be the first item you take down. Many communities and cities offer tree recycling programs, allowing you to dispose of them safely.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. As an extra precaution, keep a fire extinguisher in a visible and easily accessible location near the Christmas tree.
Upgrade Your Home Security for the Holidays
Even if you’re vigilant and take proper care of your Christmas tree, it can still pose a fire hazard. One small flame can become a dangerous or deadly house fire in under 30 seconds, but home fires can be preventable if you follow the safety tips outlined above.
Alarm Detection Systems (ADS) services homes and businesses in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. We can help you invest in the best smoke detectors and surveillance equipment to keep your home safe. In addition, our professional monitoring team can contact fire departments and other response teams as needed.
Request a quote and learn how Alarm Detection Systems can improve your Christmas tree safety plan.
About Alarm Detection Systems, Inc.
Alarm Detection Systems is one of the largest alarm firms in the country. Family-owned since 1968, we provide business alarms, fire alarms, card access, security cameras, and home security systems. Proudly servicing Chicagoland, Northern Illinois, Northwest Indiana, and Southern Wisconsin in the Midwest. Call us at 630.844.6300 for more information.