According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are several hundred fires in the U.S. every year related to Christmas tree fires, with most occurring in late December to early January. While, Christmas tree fires are not as common, when they occur, they are likely to be serious. On average, according NFPA statistics, one of every 18 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death.
Most Christmas tree fires are related to electrical shorts in the lighting on the trees. In December – January of this past year holiday season, HFD responded to at least two major fires caused by electrical short of the Christmas tree light. These fires caused a more than $100 thousand in combined damages.
According to the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association, the drought has not made the trees dryer, however they are smaller this year. Growers have also been cutting their trees a little earlier for sell, meaning the trees will possibly dry out quicker than usual.
The Houston Fire Department reminds residents that when placing the tree, make sure it is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, candles, heat vents or lights. Also, make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1–2 inches from the base of the trunk and add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily. This safety tip is especially important since the trend this year is to purchase trees six to eight weeks prior to Christmas.
When lighting the tree, never use lit candles to decorate the tree, always use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory and replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs and be sure to read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed and make sure you have a working smoke detector.
After Christmas, get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.
The City of Houston (COH) Solid Waste Management Department will embark on its 21st year of Christmas tree recycling after the holiday by providing recycling drop-off sites throughout Houston.
For additional information about the City’s recycling program, please visit http://www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/christmastree_recycling.html for a list of locations and additional information.