Fire safety at Christmas - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Fire safety at Christmas

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Lighting up the Christmas tree is a tradition in many households, but without proper fire safety, these same decorations could increase your chances of fire.  If you are planning to buy a Christmas tree this year, it is important to remember fire safety.

According to the National Fire Safety Association, over $16 million worth of damage is caused annually by fires that start with the Christmas tree.  It is estimated that there are 240 home fires each year involving Christmas trees, and cause more than ten fatalities and almost 30 injuries a year. 

Luckily, these types of fires are not too common, but when they occur they are serious.  On average, one of every 18 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death.  The National Fire Safety Association also reports that a heat source too close to the tree started one of every five of these fires. 

With that being said, what can be done to prevent these fires?  First of all, keep the tree watered.  Well-watered trees are usually not a problem, but dry trees can be.  Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks, and keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. 

The way you dispose of your tree is also important.  The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.  If this seems like too much and you choose to get an artificial tree as opposed to a real one, you should make sure to purchase one with a  fire-retardant label.

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