(WETM) – ‘Tis the season for holiday lights and decorations! But with so many strings of bulbs and candles adorning houses and trees comes the risk of a fire.
The Firefighter’s Association of New York (FASNY) is giving its annual list of tips to homeowners to help them avoid the risk of accidentally starting a house fire from lights, candles and dry Christmas trees. Fires can also start from improperly stored batteries that can overheat, especially when charging, FASNY said.
New York and Pennsylvania are some of the deadliest states when it comes to house fires, according to data from the U.S. Fire Administration. Between January 1 and December 15, 2022, Pennsylvania had 157 fatal house fires, the most of any state. New York was third behind Texas, with 128 deaths.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips
- Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, so look for a tree with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily from its branches. The tree shouldn’t be shedding its needles readily.
- Always place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and keep the tree base filled with water to avoid a dry-out.
- Make sure all your indoor and outdoor Christmas lights have been tested in a lab by the UL or ETL/ITSNA for safety, and throw out any damaged lights.
- Any lights you use outdoors must be labeled suitable for exterior placement, and be sure to plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter-protected receptacle.
- Keep all your holiday candles away from your Christmas tree, surrounding furniture and décor.
- Don’t forget to turn your Christmas tree lights off each night.
- Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
- Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
- Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
FASNY said that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports a yearly average of 7,900 house fires started by candles and 160 house fires started by Christmas trees. Between 2014 and 2018, the NFPA said candle fires caused 81 deaths, 677 injuries, and $278 million in damage.
“The holidays bring cheer, love, and joy to New Yorkers each year,” said FASNY president Edward Tase, Jr. “Unfortunately, it historically also brings an increase in home fires. Dry trees, unattended cooking, and forgotten candles can all lead to tragedy. We want all New Yorkers to enjoy a safe and accident-free holiday.”