The holiday season is now upon us. With that, we take out the holiday lights, shop for Christmas trees and put up holiday decorations. The Monterey Park Fire Department hopes everyone will enjoy a joyous holiday season. However, it is always of importance to stress the need to be aware of certain safety hazards that are always associated with the holiday season. The following tips will help keep you and your family safe as we pass through yet another holiday season and ring in the New Year.
Tree Fire Hazards
Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
Tree Selection, Care and Disposal
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. Heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. Consider using a potted tree.
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory. If there is any question as to the integrity of your lights, replace them with a new set of lights. Do not leave holiday lights on while unattended.
Do not overload electrical outlets
Follow the directions on the light sets when connecting your lights. Connect lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires, they should not be warm to the touch.
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame retardant and placed away from heat vents. Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. Wrapping paper can produce dangerous sparks and a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Division Chief Matt Hallock, PIO, Monterey Park Fire Department