JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Christmas season is considered the most wonderful time of year, but fire experts say it can also be a dangerous time of year when it comes to tree and electrical fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments nationwide responded to an average of 170 home fires per year that were caused by Christmas trees from 2012 to 2016. Reports say 43 percent of those fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment.
Experts say while that may not seem like a large number, Christmas tree fires can cause millions is property damage, injury and even death.
Here are a few tips reminders and tips courtesy of Entergy Mississippi on how to have a happy yet safe holiday.
- If using a live tree, make sure it is fresh and green with needles that are hard to pull from the branches.
- Place the tree in a stand with water, well away from heaters or the fireplace. Check water daily.
- Examine all lights before putting them on the tree or using them in other home decorations. Do not use lights with frayed wiring or loose sockets, and make sure they have been tested for safety by an independent testing laboratory.
- For greater efficiency and safety, use smaller, cool-burning LED lights.
- Keep bulbs from touching tree branches. Never burn candles on or near the tree and never use flammable decorations. (The NFPA says more than half of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles. Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day are the top three days for candle fires.)
- Be careful not to overload extension cords, outlets or even whole circuits in the house.
- Turn off decorative lighting when you leave the room.
- Place wires where they cannot trip anyone. Do not run them under a rug.
Battalion Fire Chief and fire prevention specialist with the Laurel Fire Department Howard Kitchens says he doesn’t discourage anyone from getting a live tree, but he does encourage safety.
“I’m like a lot of old-school guys,” Kitchens said. “I like the smell of the tree in the house. But if you are using a live tree, be really, really cautious with it.”
He says making sure your tree never dries out is very important. Kitchen says a dry tree can cause a fire in a matter of seconds.
The NFPA says once you’re finished with your tree or it’s dried out, get rid of it immediately. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home, garage or outside against the home.