Union Fire District of South Kingstown Shares Fire Safety Tips for Decorating this Holiday Season

Chief Steven Pinch and the Union Fire District of South Kingstown (UFD) would like to share fire safety tips for community members to be mindful of while decorating for the holidays.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2017-2021, firefighters responded to an average of 150 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. Fire departments also responded to an estimated average of 793 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees.

Christmas Tree Safety

According to the NFPA, nearly one in five Christmas tree fires were started by lamps or bulbs, and 8% by candles. Although the NFPA notes that Christmas tree fires are not common, they can grow very fast. The following tips are recommended to help prevent a fire.

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles. The needles should not fall off when touched.
  • Place the tree at least 3 feet from any heat source, including fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents and lights. Do not place the tree in an area where it may be blocking an exit.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk. Always add water to the tree stand daily.
  • Ensure your string lights are intended for indoor use and use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Never decorate a tree with lit candles.
  • Always turn off the lights on your tree before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Dispose of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. As trees dry out, they become more flammable and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Approximately 30% of Christmas tree fires happen in January.

General Holiday Decorating Tips

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Be careful about the placement of decorations, and be sure to keep them away from lit candles and other heat sources.
  • Hang lights using clips, not nails, so that the cords do not get damaged.
  • Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Do not place decorations in the way of windows and doors.
  • Candle use:
    • Candle fires peak in December and January with 11% of candle fires in each of these months.
    • Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
    • Keep candles at least 1 foot from anything that can burn.
    • Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily. Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface. Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
    • If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed in a sink, on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.
    • Candles should be out of the reach of children and pets. Consider using battery-operated candles around children.
    • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.

Holiday Entertaining Tips

  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried. The steam or splash from hot food or drink could cause serious burns.

For additional holiday fire safety tips, visit nfpa.org.

The Union Fire District of South Kingstown wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season!


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