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North Dakotans Can Prevent Holidays from Ending in Flames

Live Christmas trees that aren't properly watered can go up in flames quickly. (Gorodenkoff/Adobe Stock)
Live Christmas trees that aren't properly watered can go up in flames quickly. (Gorodenkoff/Adobe Stock)
December 23, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakotans can prevent the holidays from becoming the most dangerous time of the year, fire safety experts say.

Holiday fire fatalities are 70% higher and property loss is 34% greater than the rest of the year, according to the federal U.S. Fire Administration.

Brenden Dockter, a safety consultant for the North Dakota Safety Council, says people should be careful not to overload outlets with Christmas lights.

"Worse yet is if the short happens and the lights are inside a live Christmas tree," he stresses. "If the live Christmas tree isn't watered properly, those things can blow up in flames in a very short amount of time.

"It takes about 90 seconds for the tree to become fully engulfed and the room not to be livable in anymore."

Dockter says one of the main fires that firefighters face is when people forget to turn their lights off and haven't properly watered their trees while they're out of town. He notes that LED lights are safer because they use less power and have better fuses.

Dockter says newer homes have better outlets because of updated house codes. He says it's important to have working smoke detectors as well.

"Almost every death that comes from a house fire gets traced back to the fact that they didn't have a working smoke detector in their house," he points out. "Either they forgot to put batteries in it or it went off while they were cooking and they took it down and forgot to put it back up. Little things along those lines."

Dockter also warns about outside heaters run inside the home, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. He says the risk of carbon monoxide is a big, and potentially deadly, issue.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND