Christmas Tree Fire Safety

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Honey can you grab the fire extinguisher? We’re having a Christmas tree fire!

Christmas lights are pretty visually, but they can be a real threat to your happy holidays. Tangled in knots and missing some bulbs, Christmas lights can become an electrical nightmare with the click of a switch. The end result of not properly using holiday lights and decorations can be a Christmas tree fire. Most of us imagine our house looking like this when we install our Christmas lights.
Christmas Tree Fire

But at times when we are installing all those lights, we start out like this.
Christmas Tree Fire

Plugging in too many cords into an outlet or power strip can cause the outlet and cords to overheat and start a fire – turning your wonderful home and Christmas tree into this.
Christmas Tree Fire

Firefighters are our friends, so let’s give them a break this Christmas season. Let’s use the following checklist for better Christmas tree fire safety. Here are a few facts about home holiday fires from the U.S. Fire Administration. Did you know one in every three Christmas tree fires are the result of an electrical problem. Or that one in six Christmas tree fires is caused by a heat source that is too close to the tree and lights.

After you have spent at least an hour untangling those red, blue, green and yellow Christmas lights, your determination to string them is in full force. You know the mentality…these lights are going up this year no matter what. This same thought is in process when you are in desperate need of a plug for the Christmas lights, which is why the nearest plug gets massively overloaded. Stop!

This is why Christmas tree fire safety is so important. Certain steps have to take place before you get to the plug-in portion of this holiday chore. First you need to check each string of Christmas lights for exposed wires, frayed wires and excessive kinking. You don’t want to string lights that are worn down because there could be a short in the lights that can cause a house fire. Test the lights first to see if and how they work. If there are dead bulbs, you should replace them with new light bulbs to lessen the threat of a fire. If the lights are seriously worn out, it is always best to buy new lights. All it takes is one little spark and poof your tree, house, and Christmas presents go up in flames just as quick as Santa disappearing up the chimney.

One of the things that gets overlooked is stringing too many light sets together. Unless the tags on the cords say otherwise, you never want to plug in more than 3 light strings end-to-end. The lights have a fuse at the plug to help protect against overloading the wire. The wire is only meant to handle so much power. Overloading the wire will make the fuse blow, and this is not a good thing. When wires have too much power being pulled through them, they will overheat. This can cause the insulation, the green plastic coating on the wire, to melt and expose the live wires. This can also cause a short or shock curious little kids. It can also cause the wire to dry out, crack and frey, thus shorting the life span of the lights. That means money going right out the window. Take your time, to do the job right by making festive lights safe and enjoyable for the whole family. Just remember that electricity, water, and flammable materials don’t mix well if they’re not done right.

Another thing that is overlooked is the tree itself. A live Christmas tree is dry and adding hot Christmas tree lights to a dry tree can result in a fire as well. Watering the Christmas tree can help maintain moisture. You should also look for lights that are heat resistant or made for indoor use. These lights work well on a Christmas tree because they give off little to no heat. In regards to using candles during the holidays, battery operated is the way to go. The peak time for home candle fires is December. 11% of home candle fires start with decorations. Using real candles is a hazard when they are left unattended. For example, if you put real candles in the window or on the mantel next to other cloth decorations, a fire can occur. You can get the same glow and come back to a standing home with a plastic candle in the window.

If you are having electrical outlet problems now, don’t wait until you plug in the Christmas tree lights to get it fixed. By then, it can be too late. Call McCauley Electrical Service to check your home wiring and electrical outlets.