Christmas trees are the divas of holiday decorations. They are often the center of attention and they are very high maintenance. They also can be very dangerous.
“Christmas tree fires can be explosive and fill a room with choking smoke and heat very quickly,” stated Paul Jeske, SCE director of Corporate Health and Safety. “For safety, live trees should be watered daily and artificial trees should be fire resistant, and they must be kept at least three feet away from heat sources like space heaters and candles. They also should never be decorated with worn light stands or broken bulbs.”
Christmas tree fires, while not very frequent, are usually serious. Home Christmas tree fires are five times more likely to end in a death compared to home fires not involving trees, according to the National Fire Protection Association. One-third of Christmas tree fires result from electrical issues.
Meanwhile, power lines should be a major concern when decorating outdoors. Lights or decorations should never be installed on power lines or utility poles, and decorators should stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.
SCE recommends the following safety tips for the holidays:
- Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity. Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines when using ladders.
- Keep lights directly away from carpeting, furniture, drapes and other flammable materials.
- Be sure electrical cords are not placed at an angle or position that pinches them, like in windows.
- Use plastic zip cords when hanging lights instead of staples, tacks or nails.
- Use no more than three strands of lights per extension cord (or follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
- Use only decorations bearing the (UL), (CSA) or (ETL) labels.
- Always unplug decorative lights when leaving home or before going to bed.
For more on holiday lighting safety, visit on.sce.com/holidaylighting.