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TN Officials Give Tips to Prevent Holiday Fires

Avoid holiday disaster by keeping live Christmas trees watered daily, or only using artificial trees that are labeled as flame retardant. (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)
Avoid holiday disaster by keeping live Christmas trees watered daily, or only using artificial trees that are labeled as flame retardant. (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)
December 20, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While live Christmas trees make people's homes look and smell festive this time of year, they must also be handled with care.

Baylie Scott, assistant director of communications and marketing for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, says this year's early Thanksgiving could be contributing to extra fire danger – because Christmas trees are being enjoyed longer in many homes. That means they're drying out faster.

"Usually people put up their Christmas trees directly after Thanksgiving, which means they are up longer this year than they normally are,” she points out. “So, we want to remind consumers that if they have picked a live Christmas tree, to make sure that they are watering it every day. And once needles start to fall off when you touch it, it's time to dispose of the tree."

Scott adds it's important to use decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. And she recommends placing trees or any type of decorations at least three feet from heat sources such as fireplaces, space heaters or heat vents.

Scott says not all holiday lights are of the best quality, so avoid overloading electrical outlets and if you burn candles, do so with caution.

In Tennessee over the last five years, candles have been the cause of almost 400 residential fires, eight deaths, 28 injuries and six firefighter injuries – resulting in $13 million in fire damages.

"Some people still decorate their Christmas trees with candles, and we want to remind people that that's never a good idea,” Scott stresses. “We also want to remind people that are using candles as decorations to choose a sturdy place to put that, away from children and pets, so that they're not easily knocked over."

The Tennessee State Fire Marshal says it's important to never leave holiday lights unattended and to turn off all Christmas lights and blow out candles when you leave or go to bed.

Antionette Kerr, Public News Service - TN