Christmas tree safety tips

For many of us, the holidays mean celebrations and quality time with loved ones, but all of the excitement and festivities can cause people to overlook some dangerous safety hazards that pose a particular risk this time of year.

No one wants to spoil the holiday season, but Christmas trees in the home can present a fire safety issue, often brought on by the combination of electrical malfunctions and, in the case of a real tree, a drying tree. We have a few tips, straight from fires safety officials that will help keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.

Before trimming the tree

When purchasing an artificial tree look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

When purchasing a live tree,check for freshness. A fresh tree is green; needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of foot traffic and do not block doorways. Also, keep your tree away from any ignition source such as the fireplace, heaters or candles.

Tree disposal after the holidays: When you’re ready to get rid of your tree, please do not burn it in the fireplace or wood stove. The rapid burning and excessive heat can damage the firebox and chimney creating a serious fire hazard. Instead, find out from your municipality the day when trees will be picked at your curbside. Many municipalities recycle Christmas trees into mulch.

Before you decorate

Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or non-leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children. Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.

In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.

Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays, use in a well-ventilated area, and avoid open sources of heat or flame.

Before you plug it all in

Before you put those lights on the tree or around the front window check the cords closely. Discard any sets that are frayed or damaged.

Use extension cords wisely. People often use extension cords for that extra set of lights or the dancing Santa in the corner. Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection. Make sure cords never go under rugs as this can cause damage to the cord and cause a fire.

Source: Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs

When in doubt, always call in a professional for help. Interested in other holiday/lighting safety tips? Contact the Merenda Team today or call us at 416-240-SOLD (7653)

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