The end of Thanksgiving often means the start of Christmas tree decorations in houses throughout the country. But with the common holiday tradition, tree decorations come with significant risks of property damage.
While more than 33 million U.S. households decorate a tree annually, Christmas trees account for 250 fires annually, resulting in 14 deaths, 26 injuries and more than $13.8 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).
USFA footage of a tree fire test shows that a tree can fully ignite within three seconds. Within in just five seconds, flames extend up the tree and streak across the ceiling. Meanwhile, only 40 seconds is needed before the entire test room goes up in flames, showing just a how quickly a tree fire can become highly dangerous.
Using information from USFA, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers guidance to reduce your risk of a Christmas tree related fire.
Purchasing the Right Tree: Check for freshness of a live tree before purchasing. Buy a fresh tree that is green and needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. In addition, the trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
Tree Placement: Place your tree away from a fireplace, radiators, or any other heating sources. Also, place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Tree Maintenance: Shorts in electrical lights or flames from candles, lighters or matches are typically the cause for tree fires. Provide plenty of water for your tree throughout the season to prevent a dry tree that is susceptible to these common causes of tree fires.
Artificial Tree: Purchase an artificial tree that includes the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly