Last Updated: April 7, 2016
Make your holiday a fire safe event! Celebrate the holidays safely with these fire safety tips.
- Keep live trees watered! - Keep your holiday tree in a sturdy base filled with water. Check the water level every day. Christmas trees account for 200 fires annually, resulting in six deaths, 25 injuries and more than $6 million in property damage. The YouTube video, from the National Institute from Standards and Technology (NIST), demonstrates how quickly a tree can burn.
- Do not use candles on or near the Christmas tree.
- Place the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces and heaters.
- Safely dispose of your tree before it becomes dangerously dry. Never burn the tree or tree parts in your fireplace. (The City of Harrisonburg Public Works offers Christmas/holiday tree collection in January. Residents may place their trees at the curb for collection. After the designated collection dates, residents may place their trees curbside on their regularly scheduled bulk and yard debris collection days.)
- 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 (UL approved).
- Never use lights that have an empty socket.
- Lights should not touch combustible materials.
- "Indoor" lights should never be used outdoors.
- Avoid using extension cords, but if you do, follow instructions carefully.
- Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe.
- Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.
- Do not overload electrical circuits such as wall outlets and extension cords. Use a circuit strip.
Holiday Gift Wrap:
- Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace - It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
- Keep papers, bows and trims away from heat sources such as fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, etc.
Other Holiday Decorations:
- Candles - During December, there are almost twice as many candle fires as are averaged during the other 11 months. If you use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave candles unattended. During power outages, use a flashlight or battery-powered lamp when possible.
- Maintain Working Smoke Alarms on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Practice your exit drills with the whole family.
- For further information about holiday safety contact the Fire Prevention Office at 540-432-7703.
- Additional holiday and Christmas tree fire safety from US Fire Administration.