Christmas Tree and Fireplace Safety During the Holidays
Fireplace safety is extremely important during the holiday season. House fires that occur from Thanksgiving through early January are almost 70% more deadly than at any other time, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). On Christmas Day, two times the number of house fires caused by open-flame fires occur, compared to average days. In addition, property loss from a holiday fire is 34% more costly than normal. The toll on property is even greater, if a Christmas tree is the source.
The following are Christmas tree tips and more to help ensure that your home doesn’t become a fire statistic when you use your fireplace during the holidays.
Christmas Tree Warning!
Live and artificial Christmas trees are highly flammable, including faux trees marked “flame retardant.” Live trees that are kept watered are safer for the home than artificial trees.
Be sure electrical outlets and electrical cords do not become overloaded with too many strands of Christmas lights, since this can cause a fire. Use Christmas lights according to directions.
Pine tree resin is the source for making turpentine, fire research expert Tom Olshanski points out. He says Christmas trees are practically explosive when ignited. If a Christmas tree is dry and becomes ignited, possibly by a stray ember from the fireplace, it only takes 30 seconds for the entire room to become engulfed in flames.
What is the Safest Kind of Christmas Tree?
Live Christmas Trees
Fresh-cut trees are the safest Christmas trees. If you don’t cut down your tree for yourself, a well-watered tree that show signs of being fresh when purchased is the best alternative. Here are some tests to use at a Christmas tree lot, to determine whether a tree is too dry:
- Take a close look at the tree. It should look fresh and healthy.
- Pull some needles off the tree. On a fresh tree, it will be necessary to do some tugging to remove needles. The needles should not break off easily.
- A sticky tree trunk is a sign that it’s a fresh tree.
- With the tree standing upright, lift it up and drop it down to the ground a few times. If a lot of needles fall off, the tree is dry enough to be a fire hazard and should not be purchased.
According to experts, Concolor Fir trees are the longest lasting. They can last until spring. Unfortunately, they are difficult to find. The following are four more of the longest-lasting live Christmas trees and how long they can stay fresh after being cut down:
- Fraser Fir trees last approximately five weeks.
- Douglas Fir trees stay fresh for about four weeks.
- Scotch Pine trees last for about three weeks.
- Spruce trees only stay fresh for about two weeks.
A well-watered Christmas tree is practically impossible to ignite. The following are tips to ensure that your live Christmas tree stays fresh:
- Cut down your tree or buy a fresh tree.
- Don’t go more than 12 hours after buying a tree before placing it in water.
- Cut approximately two inches off the trunk of the tree. This is essential because the tree can’t absorb water, if this isn’t done.
- Water the tree daily.
- Do not place a Christmas tree, garlands, or other greenery within 3 feet of a fireplace, radiator, heat vents, or other heat supply. A live tree can quickly dry up and become a highly dangerous fire hazard, if placed near a heat source.
Artificial Christmas Trees
A pre-lit artificial tree is the most dangerous type of Christmas tree. Each year, as the tree is taken apart and put back together, the wiring for the lights breaks down more and more. The risk of shocks and sparks is increased every time a pre-lit tree is used.
If there is dust on any artificial tree, a small spark could ignite the dust and cause surrounding combustible materials to go up in flames.
Keep your fireplace well-maintained, which includes having an annual fireplace inspection and scheduling chimney cleaning anytime the creosote in the chimney is at least 1/8” thick. To prevent embers from popping onto the floor, carpet, or on other nearby flammable materials, always use a screen in front of the fireplace.
Use your fireplace properly. This means never using flammable liquids in the fireplace to get flames going. Burn seasoned firewood only—this means no wrapping paper. Nothing flammable should be within 3 feet of the fireplace opening.
Clean out the ashes of the fireplace using proper safety procedures: Place cooled embers in a metal container with a lid and take them outside and away from your home. They should cool for another 24 hours before being disposed of.
Trust the Experts at Burlington Fireplace & Solar
The chimney sweeps at Burlington Fireplace & Solar are all trained and certified. You can rely on our chimney experts to keep your fireplace properly maintained. Our comprehensive services include all chimney repairs and rebuilds, fireplace and stove installation, fireplace insert installation, and custom fireplace and wall treatment construction. Contact Burlington Fireplace & Solar at 262-763-3522 today, to get your fireplace ready for a safe and festive holiday season.