Mammoth Lakes Fire Department: How to keep Xmas safe

Holiday Fire Safety

Decorating homes and businesses is a basic part of the holiday season.  Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire.  An estimated 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year.  Together, these fires resulted in 21 deaths and 43 injuries.

Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy.  Learn how to prevent a fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home.  Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees. Help ensure that you have a fire safe holiday season.

Christmas Trees

What’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree?  If your household includes a natural cut tree in its festivities, make sure that you – “Keep the tree watered.”

Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually.  Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires.  A dry and neglected tree can be a serious problem.  Keep your tree well-watered and remove from the structure if many needles begin falling from the tree.

Selecting a Tree for the Holidays

Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut.  The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground.  If many needles fall off, the tree was cut too long ago, has dried out, and is a fire hazard and should be removed regardless of how long the tree has been in the structure.

Caring for Your Tree

Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent.  The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.  Do not put your cut tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.  Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree

Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or hauling it to the disposal center for proper treatment.

Holiday Lights

Maintain Your Holiday Lights

Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets

Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

Do not leave holiday lights on unattended!

Holiday Decorations

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations

All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Don’t Block Exits

Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exit way puts you and your family at risk.

Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace

Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.  Wrapping paper may also contain toxins that are not safe to breathe if allowed to burn.

The Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District wishes you a very happy and safe holiday season.  For more information or for any questions pertaining to fire related issues, please feel free to contact the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department at 934-2300.

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