Dangerous Decorations?

How to avoid letting a Christmas tree fire extinguish your holiday spirit

By: Chase Carlisle

The holidays are almost here! For many families, this time of the year is spent with loved ones decorating the house with lights, candles and Christmas trees. While this practice is extremely common, there are some unexpected dangers associated with these decorations, which, if planned for, can be prevented. Christmas tree fires may not be very common, but the damage they cause can often be severe. It is important that you know about the dangers associated with holiday decoration fires and how your personal insurance policy can cover you in the case of an emergency.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2009 and 2013, the U.S. Fire Department responded to an average of 210 house fires a year started by issues with Christmas trees. On average, one of every 31 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, as opposed to the one death per 144 that reported house fires in typical situations. As the statistics show, these fires are particularly dangerous, but they can be prevented with adequate preparation.

One of the best ways to help prevent Christmas tree fires begins the moment you decide to purchase one. Buying a healthy, green tree and maintaining proper care can be crucial to your safety. Before you leave the lot with a natural tree, make sure to cut off at least two inches from the bottom at a 45-degree angle, as this will help it absorb water. Dry trees are much more flammable, so make sure there is always water in the tree stand, and remember to water the tree frequently. If you suspect your tree is drying out, it is important to discard it right away. A dead Christmas tree isn’t worth putting your family in danger.

Other ways that Christmas trees can be a fire hazard is due to their placement in your home. The National Fire Protection Association reports that two out of every five Christmas tree fires start in the living room, family room or den. It’s important to ensure that your tree is a safe distance from any type of heat source. One in every six of these fires started because the Christmas tree was too close to a heat source. Make sure your tree is at least three feet from any fireplace, radiator, space heater, candles or heat vents.

Another cause for fires has to do with the types of decorations applied to Christmas trees. When decorating your tree, be sure to use only non-flammable decorations. Whether you put up a live tree or a synthetic alternative, electrical problems are the cause of three out of ten tree fires. It is important to never connect more than three strands of mini light sets and never connect more than 50 bulbs for the larger screw-in light sets. Make sure to inspect the light strings for frayed wires or other defects before you apply them, and remember not to leave them on unattended.

Sometimes, taking all necessary precautions won’t help you avoid accidents. In these cases, it is important to know what type of homeowner’s coverage you have. While personal home insurance plans can vary, most policies insure anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of the building coverage. No matter what your current policy is, it is important to speak with your representative to know what you are covered for and how you can better protect yourself and your home. Don’t let something like a Christmas tree fire extinguish your holiday spirit.

For more information, visit Carlisle Insurance online at www.carlisleins.com.



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