CPSC Issues Safety Tips For Avoiding Christmas Tree Fires

With families throughout the U.S. starting to decorate for the holiday season, federal officials have issued a series of safety recommendations, which are designed to help prevent Christmas tree fires and ladder related injuries. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a holiday safety warning on December 6, providing several tips that may prevent some of the estimated 14,700 injuries recorded annually with holiday decorating and house fires.

Last year, there were an average of about 240 injuries per day during the holiday season of November and December. The CPSC found that 41 percent of the injuries involved falls from ladders or chairs while an individual was attempting to hang Christmas lights or decorative items for the holiday season. About 10 percent of the injuries included lacerations and another five percent indicated back injuries.

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The CPSC is emphasizing the need for keeping indoor Christmas trees away from candles or other flame sources, and to always water the trees daily. From 2012 to 2014, the CPSC received 100 reports of indoor Christmas trees catching on fire, resulting in 10 fatalities, 20 emergency room visits, and an estimated $15.7 million in property damage.

The agency is recommending those using live indoor Christmas trees to make sure the tree is fresh and green and does not have any dead limbs that could easily catch on fire. Christmas trees should never be placed near heat sources such as fireplaces, vents, radiators. Heated rooms can dry out a tree quickly if it is not watered properly.

When putting lights on an indoor tree, officials recommend only using lights tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, which have to meet certain safety requirements. Consumers should always check their Christmas lights prior to hanging them to ensure there are not loose connections or cracked bulbs that could allow a direct heat source on a tree.

Officials are also warning parents or caregivers to never hang Christmas ornaments too low on a tree so young children cannot reach them, which could pose a choking and suffocation hazard if a child puts an ornament in their mouth.

In addition to Christmas tree fire risks, the CPSC is also asking the public to be cautious when using candles, and to never leave them burning overnight. According to the same timeline’s data, about 1,200 house fires occurred due to candles, causing 10 fatalities, 130 consumers requiring emergency room treatment, and as estimated $42.2 million in property damage.

As a safety precaution, officials recommend making sure there are working smoke detectors on every floor of a home and in every bedroom. Those with smoke detectors should test them every month to ensure they are working properly and that the batteries have been changed at least once a year.

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