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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Deck Those Halls With Evergreen “Life”…Not An Incendiary “Light!”

12/21/2021 (Permalink)

During the holiday season, never underestimate the risk of unexpected fires as you “deck the halls!” We appreciate the hope and life, represented by those holiday evergreen decorations, but ALSO want to avoid turning it into an unwelcome fiery light!

Those nature-loving Druids definitively established the precedent of featuring evergreens during the holiday season. While the outside world became dormant, the aptly-named evergreen trees and foliage offered a sense of hope and celebrated the perseverance of new life that would emerge when spring arrived.

Eventually, we not only adorned and celebrated this greenery surrounding us outside, but expanded the joy by bringing nature’s winter bounty indoors. And here we are, millennia later, decking those halls with every imaginable form of evergreen…along with increasingly-elaborate decorations. Whether brightly-colored ribbons, lights that sparkle and twinkle, glistening tinsel and metallic reflectors, or a festive combination of every embellishment imaginable, we have certainly elevated that original humble Druid tree!

However, while those trees and lush garlands bring the “light” of hope during the darker days of winter, the tendency to enhance that “light” with our own forms of illumination ALSO represents some possible “dark” outcomes. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has compiled some chilling statistics involving holiday incendiary mishaps:

  • One in five home decoration fires happened in December between 2015 and 2019.
  • Between 2015 and 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 950 house fires a year caused by Christmas decorations.
  • Christmas lights and candles and other Christmas decorations were the cause of 790 of those fires, and caused an average of one death, 26 injuries and $13 million in property damage each year.
  • The remaining 160 involved Christmas trees and caused an average of two deaths, 12 injuries and $10 million in damages annually.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in almost half of home Christmas tree fires. Using too many, old or damaged extensions cords can overload an outlet and cause a dangerous situation.
  • Nearly one in five Christmas tree fires was started by decorative lights, with eight percent started by candles.
  • Roughly two of every five home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.
  • Year round, more than one-third (35%) of home decoration fires were started by candles. This jumped to almost half in December when candles started 45% of such fires. Cooking started one-fifth (19%) of decoration fires.

Don’t dismay…we don’t want to put a damper on your holiday cheer! Thanks to insights gained from hard-won experience, the NFPA offers tips for you to SAFELY deck those halls:

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and is not blocking an exit
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water DAILY.
  • As Christmas trees dry out, they become more and more flammable. Thirty percent of Christmas tree fires were in January. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, they can grow very fast.
  • Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. This includes artificial trees, if that is your preferred alternative to a live evergreen.
  • Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
  • Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
  • Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
  • Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind them to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
  • Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding them.

We have seen holiday joy turned into pure heartbreak in the blink of an eye, as the “go-to” experts in fire damage mitigation, remediation and restoration. And our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team wants you to be able to deck those halls with that evergreen “life”…while avoiding the consequences of an unexpected incendiary “light!”

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