Fire department offers tips for holiday safety

  • Published
  • By 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department
  • 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department
According to the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Yearly, these fires have resulted in more thanĀ 600 deaths, 3,825 injuries and almost $2 billion in property loss.

To help protect families this time of year, the McConnell fire department would like to pass on some life-saving tips for a safe and happy holiday.

Prevent holiday tree fires

- Families should take extra precautions when keeping real trees in their homes. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

- When selecting a holiday tree, make sure the needles on fresh trees are green; they don't break and are hard to pull back from the branches. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. If the tree is dried out, it is a fire hazard.

- Don't place the tree close to heat sources. Heat will dry out the tree making it easier to catch on fire. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put a fresh-cut tree up too early because the tree will dry out after two weeks and keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

- The best way to dispose of a tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service. At McConnell, an open container will be placed in the youth center parking lot in base housing from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6, for real tree disposal only. The trees will be recycled.

- Families who use artificial trees should make sure trees are flame retardant.

Prevent decoration hazards

- Before putting up lights, they should be inspected for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive wearing.

- Do not overload electrical outlets and link more than three strands of decorations together.

- Do not leave holiday lights on unattended. All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

- Do not put lit candles on a tree.

- Never put wrapping paper in a fire place.

-Finally, make sure smoke alarms are installed on every level of the home, and test them monthly. Know when and how to call for help, and remember to practice a family escape plan.

For more information on holiday fire safety, visit