Every year we hear heartbreaking stories about Christmas trees or unattended candles starting a fire and destroying someone's home. In an attempt to prevent as holiday tragedy, we offer the following tips to have a joyous season.
First when decorating a tree, always use lights listed by a testing laboratory. Take note that most lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. It's important to know that smaller mini bulbs produce less heat.
Next, only use extension cords which are approved by an authorized testing laboratory and have wiring sufficient for the amperage of the lighting.
While it is easy to avoid the next suggestion, always take time to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use tree lights. Strings of lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used. Professionals recommend that no more than three strands of push-in bulbs and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs be used on any circuit.
Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays. Most outdoor holiday lighting isn't designed to be left out in the weathers battering elements forever. If they are taken them down after the holidays it will extend their life and the homeowner should get many years of useful life out of them before replacement is needed.
Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and make sure any lit candles in the room are placed well away from tree branches. Pine and fur trees are very flammable, particularly as they dry out.
Try to keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water daily.Trees in stands in the house can use as much as a quart of water per day. Don't purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles. Check for fresh, green needles and place the tree in a sturdy tree stand designed to prevent tip over. Any artificial tree purchased should be labeled as fire-retardant.
Children and pets are fascinated with Christmas trees. Keep a watchful eye on children and pets when they are around the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights. If glass or breakable bulbs are used, keep them out of reach of small children and pets. Dogs and cats can occasionally chew on wiring or extension cords, so take precautions to avoid this problem.
Make sure the tree is at least three feet (one meter) away from any heat source, such as fireplaces and radiators. Try to position the tree near an outlet so that extension cords don't pose a trip or wear hazard. Lastly, do not place the tree where it may block an outside door or exit.
Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in the house or garage, or even placed against the house. Many trees can be shredded and the chips can be used as mulch.
Candles place a particularly warm glow on the holidays. But they can cause major problems if placed in the wrong places and if used in the wrong ways.
Candles present a severe risk of house fires if safety precautions are not taken. The U.S. Product Safety Commission indicates that as high as 85 percent of all candle related fires could be avoided if consumers follow three basic rules.
Never leave a burning candle unattended.
Never leave a burning candle on or near anything that might catch fire.
Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
The National Candle Association and the U.S. Fire Administration indicate that accidental candle fires account for approximately four percent of all U.S. residential fires and they urge consumers to follow these basic rules of fire safety when burning candles.
Before lighting a candle:
Trim the wick 1/4 inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. It should be heat resistant, sturdy, and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
Burn candles in a well-ventilated room.
Place the candleholder on a stable, heat-resistant surface.
Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
Avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, and excessive dripping.
Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on burn time and proper use.
While burning candles there are some other rules to follow.
Never touch or move a burning candle. Never move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquefied.
Don't burn a candle all the way down. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when two inches of wax remains (1/2 inch if in a container).
Extinguish a candle if the flame becomes too high or flickers repeatedly. Let the candle cool, trim the wick, and check for unwanted drafts before re-lighting.
Always keep the candle within sight. If you are going to leave the room, be sure to first blow out all candles.
When putting out a candle care is also important.
Use a candle snuffer to extinguish a candle. It's the safest way to prevent hot wax from spattering.
Never use water to extinguish a candle. Water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might break a glass container.
Make sure the candle is completely out and the wick ember is no longer glowing before leaving the room.