Have a "fire-wise" Christmas

Explore tips and suggestions from Firewise educators to protect your home, family and community from fires started by holiday lights and decorations.

As the holidays get ever closer, we turn our minds indoors and to seasonal decorations. Lights, garland, Christmas trees, wreaths, and more festoon our houses, garages and yards. We should also keep in mind that fires don’t have a “season.” Anytime conditions are right, a wildfire, forest fire or a house fire could start, but there are steps you can take to protect your home and property during the holiday season from potential fire hazards.

Holiday Firewise tips

  • Inspect your before you begin to decorate; do you need to remove dead branches, leaves and other debris from your yard? Keeping debris cleared away can help to protect your property from wildfire. This is especially important if you are running extension cords around your yard to power your holiday decorations.
  • While you are hanging those lights take a moment to inspect your gutters and chimney, clear out any debris from your gutters to keep embers from ruining your holiday. Fireplaces add both warmth and atmosphere to your festivities, but one wayward spark from a yule log can cause more excitement than anticipated if it causes a fire outside.
  • If you have a natural Christmas tree inside your home, keep it well-watered. The National Fire Protection Association reports that over 400 reported fires are started annually by Christmas trees and other similar decorations. When purchasing a Christmas tree, choose a well hydrated tree that has flexible needles and is somewhat sticky to the touch. Keep the water basin filled at all times.
  • Mind your lights and other trimmings; inspect for soundness before installing. Inspect your holiday lights to make sure that they are completely intact with no splits or frays to avoid shorting out.
  • When the holidays are over properly dispose of your tree, castoff dried Christmas trees lying around can become a tinder source for fires. If your tree becomes dry prematurely, discard it promptly to reduce fire risk in your home. Most communities have a tree collection after the holiday or other disposal options such as composting. Avoid burning your fresh tree in a wood stove or fireplace; age your wood long enough to prevent creosote buildup.

For more information about Firewise wildfire safety, visit the Michigan State University Firewise website or the National Firewise Website for a 12-days of Firewise Wildfire Safety tip sheet; you can also visit the US. Fire Administration for holiday and Christmas tree fire safety information.

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