Your house is twinkling and merry with cheer, so keep it safe, too, by taking these simple measures.
WATER YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE
Dried-out live trees are a greater fire risk than artificial ones. You can slow the drying process by:
Making a fresh cut at the stump so your tree will absorb water. Place the stump in a bucket of water or water-filled tree stand once home to keep sap from sealing over the fresh cut.
Freshly cut trees drink as much as a gallon or more in the first 24 hours, so refill the reservoir frequently throughout the first day.
Select a location away from heat sources, such as space heaters, fireplaces, vents, and windows.
During December, check water daily. Trees continue to drink a quart or more per day and should never go dry even for short periods, which causes sap to seal over the stump wound reducing water uptake.
WATCH CANDLES CLOSELY
Unattended candles can cause house fires. While flameless candles are strongly recommended, practicing safe candle guidelines ensure a worry-free candlelit season.
Keep candles a minimum of 12 inches from flammable items.
Extinguish candles when leaving the room, going to bed, and leaving the house.
Never leave children or pets alone in a room with lit candles.
Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children.
DON'T OVERLOAD OUTLETS
Studies show approximately 64 percent of fires involving decorative lights were caused by electrical failures and malfunctions. When asked about the most important practices to remember when decorating with lights, Master Electrician Leon Wilson offers the following advice:
“The main thing to remember is to not overload the circuit that you plug them into. On a 20 amp breaker you can put 16 amps on it. On a 15 amp breaker you can put 12 amps on it... look on the package of lights to find out how many amps each strand pulls.” Then take this number and divide it into 16 or 12, depending on the breaker you’re using. This gives you the total number of strands you can safely plug into your circuit.
Also, “Use the proper type of extension cord with a ground for inside and outside lights. Use a #12 UL approved extension cord for a 20 amp breaker and a #14 UL approved cord for a 15 amp breaker. All outside lights need to be on a ground fault receptacle.”
Replace damaged electrical cords and lights.
Use pet-proof covering for cords and place out of reach of pets to prevent chewing.
Always turn indoor and outdoor lights off when going to bed or leaving home.
PREVENT TRIPPING HAZARDS
Fire risks are not the only concerns for safe holiday decorating. Falls are also common. To keep decorations safe, never run cords across a room, under carpet or rugs, taped to the floor, or across a sidewalk. Instead, keep cords close to walls and out of walking paths. Keep walkways clear of tree skirts and other floor decorations, as well. When hanging lights or other decorations, use safe ladder practices and put ladders away when finished.