As millions of people decorate their homes for the winter holidays, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding consumers about the fire hazard of candles and Christmas trees.
On average, there are about 240 holiday decorating-related injuries that require hospital treatment every day in November and December.
The most common injuries are falls (41%), cuts (10%) and back strains (5%), but an average of 3 people die from falling off ladders, often while putting up Christmas lights or tree decorations.
For the months of November and December, candles caused an average of 10 deaths, 1,200 fires, 130 emergency-room treated injuries, and $42.2 million in property damage from 2012 to 2014.
Christmas trees caused an average of 100 fires, 10 deaths, and $15.7 million in property damage between 2012 and 2014.
According to CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle:
Safety should be part of all your decorating efforts. Make sure your live Christmas tree has plenty of water, keep lit candles away from flammable items, and use caution when standing on a ladder or a chair to hang decorations.”
The CPSC has provided tips to stay safe this holiday season.
Trees and Decorations
1. Buying a live tree? Check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and its needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
2. Setting up a tree at home? Place it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Heated rooms rapidly dry out live trees, be sure to monitor water levels daily and keep the tree stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of foot traffic and do not block doorways with the tree.
3. Buying an artificial tree? Look for the label: “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, the tree is more resistant to catching fire.
4. Decorating a tree in homes with small children? Avoid sharp or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of small children who could swallow or inhale small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to try to eat them.
1. Keep burning candles within sight. Extinguish all candles before leaving the room.
2. Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface where children and pets cannot reach them or knock them over. Place lit candles away from items that can catch fire such as trees, decorations, curtains and furniture.
1. Only use lights tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Lights for both indoor and outdoor usage must meet strict standards that testing laboratories are able to verify.
2. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets and do not use electric lights on a metallic tree.
3. Check each extension cord to make sure it is rated for the intended use and is in good condition. Do not use cords with cuts or signs of fraying.
4. Check outdoor lights for labels showing the lights have been certified for outdoor use and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
1. Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown onto wood fires. Fire salts contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if swallowed. Keep them away from children.
2. Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. A flash fire may result because wrappings can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.