Holiday Decorations Safety
It’s December Cenla! Even though many of you have started to decorate for Christmas months ago, SERVPRO of Alexandria is here to help you stay safe this time of the year.
Let’s begin with the most common decoration of the season: the tree. Whether you like natural trees or fake trees, there are things to consider when you first purchase them.
There is a concern that plastic trees are too flammable but you need not worry! There are trees that are now fire resistant. When you’re at your local store, make sure you look for the fire resistant label on the box. This makes the tree less susceptible to catching fire and let’s you have better peace of mind.
In the case of natural trees make sure to choose one that isn’t too dry. Having a dry tree is a safety hazard as they will ignite much faster. By observing the needles you should be able to tell if a tree is hydrated. The following tips should help:
- They are green. The greener the better.
- They are hard to pull off.
- When you bend them between your fingers, they don’t snap.
- When you shake the tree, there isn’t a shower of needles falling off.
You can also tell by the trunk. If it is sticky with resin, then it's definitely hydrated.
When placing the tree, make sure any heating source is at least 3 feet away from it. Also don’t block exits. It is recommended to water your tree at least every two days. But the more frequent, the better. Keeping it hydrated will keep it looking healthy and less likely to ignite.
Use proper outlets
When plugging in your light-up decorations, take into consideration the following:
- The power source should be plugged into the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.
- This will shut the circuit down if there is an over current. You may opt to install one, in which case a handyman can help you with that, or buy a portable outdoor unit.
- Do not overload the extension cords, at the maximum there should be 3 light strings according to the recommendations from the (CPSC). They also encourage homeowners to unplug decorations when there is no one in the building, and turn them off before going to sleep.
Read the labels!
Lights and other wired decorations have wattage levels which you need to make sure you are conforming to.
Don't use any damaged electric lights. Cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections may pose a fire or shock hazard.
Keep your fireplace and chimney clean.
Don't throw any wrapping paper into the fireplace. A flash fire may result due to wrappings igniting and burning intensibly.
Candles can set the mood for a lovely holiday evening. Open flame is a fire hazard, so perhaps consider using battery-operated candles. In any case, follow these recommendations if you decide to light up regular candles:
- Keep them on a sturdy base that won’t tip over.
- Do not leave a candle unattended.
- Do not have any lighted candles, lighters, or matches close or on the tree or evergreens.
- Consider a non-flammable candle holder.
- Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
- Place them somewhere they will not get knocked or blown over.
Interesting stats about the holiday season
-130,000 fires are reported in December alone. Causing 400 fatalities and 1,600 injuries.
-The entire month of December as well as New Years have on average over 200 fire related fatalities and injuries.
-Almost a fourth of Christmas tree fires are due to the trees being too close to a heat source.
-Holiday decorations and Christmas trees account for almost 2,000 fires. This case caused 41 million in property damage according to the NFPA.
-The majority of homeowners have smoke detectors in their homes. Although 24% of those have not changed their batteries in the last 2 years. The Fire Department of the City of Alexandria can help with more information regarding smoke detectors and more.
-More than 20% of Americans do not turn off their decoration lights before going to sleep, or leaving their houses.
As a final tip, we encourage our community to keep an escape plan in mind. Make sure to practice it with your family. It will help to know exactly what to do when there is an emergency.
Stay safe Central Louisiana and Happy Holidays!
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