GLOUCESTER — With the holiday season underway, Fire Chief Eric Smith and the Gloucester Fire Department would like to remind residents to use caution when decorating and lighting a Christmas tree in their homes.
“Please be wary as you cut, place, and decorate your tree in order to avoid injury and fires this season,” Chief Smith said. “It’s imperative that trees be properly positioned away from heating sources so that they are at less risk of catching on fire.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2012-2016, fire departments responded to an average of 170 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of four deaths, 15 injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage annually.
In order to prevent Christmas tree fires, Gloucester Fire recommends residents follow safety tips provided by the NFPA:
PICKING THE TREE
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
PLACING THE TREE
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
- Positions the tree so that it is not blocking an exit.
- Add water to the tree stand daily.
LIGHTING THE TREE
- Use the appropriate lights, as some are only for indoor use, and others are for outdoor use.
- Replace any string lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Dispose of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against a house
- Check with your local community to find a recycling program.
- Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
For more information on Christmas tree safety tips, visit the National Fire Protection Association website or contact the Gloucester Fire Department at 978-281-9760.