Preventing Tree Fires this 2017 Holiday Season

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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – A number of homes on the inside and outside have been decorated or are in the process of being decorated with Christmas lights, stockings, banners, wreaths and the most popular of these decorations is the Christmas tree.

As part of Ministry of Public Health’s Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Safe Holiday Season Observances, in collaboration with the Department of Communication, residents are advised to keep the season safe by following a few helpful tips.

Check Christmas tree lighting to make sure it is operating safely in order in order to avoid any hazards this holiday season.

These are some life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday:

* Preventing holiday tree fire hazards

Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

* Selecting a Tree for the Holiday

Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut.  The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground.  If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

* Caring for Your Tree

Do not place your tree close to a heat source.  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 live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

* Disposing of Your Tree

When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.  The best way to dispose of your tree is by having it hauled away by the waste disposal service.

Holiday Lights

* Maintain Your Holiday Lights

Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up.

* Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets

Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe.  Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.  Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

* Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended

Holiday Decorations; Use Only Nonflammable Decorations; All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant.

* Never Put Wrapping Paper near an open flame

It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.

* Artificial Holiday Trees

If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Candle Care

* Avoid Using Lit Candles

If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

* Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree

Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

By following precautionary tips, families can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.  Happy holidays.