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John Michael Montgomery

[VIDEO] How to avoid house fires during the Christmas holiday


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – It’s finally time to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. While the decorations may be a beautiful sight to see, they can also pose safety hazards if not properly monitored.

Many people delay in taking their tree down after Christmas, but the NFPA advises to get rid of it as soon as possible after Christmas. The longer it stays up, the more it dries out, and dried-out trees are a fire hazard. Find a recycling station in your community to dispose of your tree after Christmas.

Between 2014-2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of two deaths, 14 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage annually. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in almost half (45%) of home Christmas tree fires. More than one-fifth (22%) of the Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree. Fifteen percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional.  Roughly three-quarters of Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January. More than two of every five (42%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.

In 2014–2018, US fire departments responded to an average of 7,610 home structure fires that were started by candles per year. These fires caused an annual average of 81 civilian fire deaths, 677 civilian fire injuries, and $278 million in direct property damage. Overall, candles caused 2% of the reported home fires, 3 percent of the home fire deaths, 6 percent of the home fire injuries, and 4% of the direct property damage in reported home fires during this period. On average, 21 home candle fires were reported per day. On average 58 fires per day are started by candles during the Christmas holiday.

To avoid a fire from an open flame candle being too close to something such as your Christmas tree, many people have switched to wax warmers. These are scented wax cubes placed in a decorative warmer, which looks like a candle holder. A bulb is placed under the wax cube to warm it and release the scent. Wax warmers leave less mess and less worry for a fire starting. While it is true there is not an open flame, fires can still be started by a wax warmer from overheating, electrical wire damage, tripping over the cord, or electrocution. Be sure to use proper care and instructions when using either candles or wax warmers.

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