December is the leading month for home and apartment fires and fire-related deaths in the U.S. On average, nearly 600 fires per year have been started by the ignition of a holiday tree resulting in 33 deaths, 112 injuries, and $21 million in direct property damage. All of these fires would have been preventable if people would have followed the following tips:
1. Never overload a socket. Faulty plugs and overloaded sockets are a fire waiting to happen. Replace all worn plugs and wires on holiday lights. Never overload a wall sockets. Invest in a multi-outlet power strip.
2. Keep live holiday trees moist. If you are decorating with a fresh cut fir or pine tree, re-cut the trunk at least an inch and place the base of the tree in water. Re-water frequently. If the tree begins dropping needles, then you know it is too dry.
3. Be sure artificial trees and decorations are flame-retardant. Read the label, if it doesn’t say fire-retardant, move on.
4. Avoid open flames. Roaring fireplaces and Christmas candles can create a festive mood but they can also be dangerous. Always protect your family by using a fireplace screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only wood. Never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out of the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighborhood home. Never leave a burning candle in reach of children.
5. Invest in a smoke alarm. Underwriters Laboratories says you can cut the risk of dying in a home or apartment fire in half simply by having a smoke alarm in your home.