At Christmastime, many families in Washington state enjoy gathering around the tree to celebrate the holiday season and reflect on the past year.
As people prepare for the holiday, the Washington state Fire Marshal’s Office reminds families that a small fire involving a Christmas tree can grow very quickly.
When picking, placing and lighting your Christmas tree, the Fire Marshal’s Office encourages people to follow several tips to increase fire safety:
• Select a tree that is fresh and has green needles that do not fall off when touched.
• Cut two inches from the base of the tree trunk before placing it in the tree stand.
• Keep all heat sources at least three feet away from the tree. This includes fireplaces, portable heaters and candles. Heat sources too close to the tree cause more than one in every five of home fires, per the Fire Marshal’s Office.
• Do not block exits or exit pathways with the tree.
• Add water to the tree stand reservoir daily to keep the tree hydrated.
• Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory, and select the type appropriate for the location of the tree. Some lights are to be used only in indoor or outdoor settings.
• If using an extension cord for tree lights, avoid putting cords under rugs and carpets, across doorways, or where they can be damaged or pinched.
• Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all light strands and replace any with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Almost one third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems, per the Fire Marshal’s Office.
• Never use lit candles with live flames to decorate a tree.
• Always turn off tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
• Remove dried-out trees from inside the home, and do not place them in the garage or against the outside of the residence.
For more information, contact the state Fire Marshal’s Office at 360-596-3929.