It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Harrington Group. We recently put up our Christmas tree and will celebrate the season at our company Christmas party this coming weekend. We are certainly filled with the holiday spirit, but as members of the fire protection engineering community, we also worry about fire safety. While Christmas tree fires are not that common, when they do occur, they tend to be pretty serious. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the US Fire Administration (USFA), US Fire Departments respond to an average of 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and an additional 150 fires that involve holiday lights each year, resulting in 21 fatalities, 27 injuries, and over $20 million in direct property damages.

NFPA and USFA offer several fire safety tips to help keep you and yours safe while you deck the halls that include:

  • Make sure if you have an artificial tree, it’s labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
  • When choosing a real tree, make sure the needles are fresh and green and do not fall off when touched. Before placing it in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the tree.
  • Water real trees daily. To find out why, check out this video comparing the flammability of a dry Christmas tree versus one that is watered daily.
  • Do not block exits with trees or decorations.
  • Place your tree at least three feet away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, candles, or heat vents.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate trees.
  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory, like UL, and be sure to replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or with loose bulb connections.
  • Always turn of Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Be sure to get rid of the tree when it is dry. Do not keep dry trees in your home, garage, or outside leaning against your home, as a dried out tree is a fire hazard. When you are ready to disregard your tree, your local community will have information on where it can be recycled.

We hope that you will find these tips helpful while you are decorating for the holidays. And, from the entire Harrington Group team, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.