Holiday Safety and Christmas Trees--Some Facts!

In recent years, Real Christmas trees have come under scrutiny because of their perceived potential fire hazard. Are Real Christmas trees the fire hazard they have been made out to be? For many, the immediate answer is an emphatic yes! However, what are the facts?

Facts about Christmas Tree fires

Each year, fires involving Christmas trees do happen. In fact, between 1992 and 1996, of the total number of residential fires reported (446,00) each year, around 530 involved a Christmas tree according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Statistically, that amounts to around one-tenth of one percent (0.12%) of all residentially fires.

What kind of "Christmas Trees" were involved? Both Real and artificial Christmas trees were the first item ignited, representing several different materials. However, Christmas trees are not as likely to be the first item ignited in residential fires as many other household items:

* newspapers 13 times more likely

* boxes or bags 10 times more likely

* curtains or drapes 9 times more likely

* linens 8 times more likely

* cleaning supplies 3 times more likely

* clothing on a person 2 times more likely

What the numbers mean

Each year, approximately 33 million Real Christmas Trees are bought in the United States and enjoyed as the traditional centerpiece of the holiday celebration. According to the NFPA data, of all the Real Christmas trees enjoyed during the holiday season, fewer than one-one thousandth of a percent (0.001%) are involved in a residential fire!

As mentioned earlier, fires involving Real Christmas Trees do happen; but the chance of yours catching fire is very slim, especially if you follow some common sense precautions.

What you can do

It is important to remember that at no time can a Real Christmas tree START a fire. It can however be ignited by an external source. According to NFPA published material, electrical causes and lamps were responsible for starting almost half (46.9%) of structure fires involving Christmas trees. Another quarter of the fires (24..6%) were caused by various open flames, sparks and embers. The remaining fires (28.5%) were started by a variety of ignition sources, including gas-fueled equipment and cigarettes.

Keeping the holiday safe from fire is an important responsibility for every family. According to the California Christmas Tree Association (CCTA), these simple steps can help guard against the rare, but serious, event of a holiday fire.

* Select the freshest-looking Real Tree available. Make a fresh cut across the tree's base and immediately place in water. Keep the tree's water container full at all times, checking the water level daily.

* Be extra careful with electricity, all open flames and other heat sources during the holidays.

* Check all Christmas tree lights, other electric decorations and electrical appliances with worn electrical cords. Use only UL approved electrical decorations and extension cords.

* Place the Christmas tree well away from heat registers, space heaters, fire places and wood stoves.

* Place the Christmas tree well clear of doors--keep the emergency escape route clear of trees, packages and furniture.

* Unplug tree lights and other decorations when out of the room or sleeping.

Don't let the very slim chance of a fire involving your Christmas tree keep you from enjoying the life, fragrance and tradition that real trees bring to your holiday celebration. A traditional Christmas begins with a Real Tree.

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