TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Christmas is a joyous time of the year, but too often mistakes are sometimes made when maintaining the festive tree and the results can be deadly.
Something as simple as an electrical shortage can turn a serene Christmas tree into a deadly blaze.
“You know it’s the holiday time we want to get all these decorations up and have everything looking shiny and bright, but you need to be smart,” said Deputy Fire Chief Richard Jones with the Tallahassee Fire Department.
Luckily this is just a demonstration.
But State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said each year Christmas tree accidents cause an average of 160 fires and three deaths nationwide.
“And from an insurance standpoint we’re talking about an excess of over $10 million in losses,” said Patronis.
But simple safety precautions like using LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs, keeping your tree hydrated and away from fire hazards like fireplaces, heat vents, and other heat sources can prevent a Christmas catastrophe.
“The most glaring point is to make sure there’s no open flames, no candles near them. That was the biggest cause of the fires,” said Patronis.
If your tree does light, every second counts.
Once the smoke alarm sounds you have only two to three minutes to make it out safely.
“You’re going to want to get low and go. You’re always going to want two ways out of every room. Don’t go back for presents. Don’t go back for toys. Once you’re out, get out and stay out,” said Chief of Fire Prevention Casia Sinco with the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
And while fake trees are generally a safer option, using a bit of common sense and implementing safety precautions can ensure the only thing burning in your home this Christmas is the logs in your fireplace.
Fire safety advocates also urge Floridians to use caution when disposing of a live tree.
You should keep them stored outdoors and contact one of many Christmas tree disposal services, which will often take the tree off your hands-free of charge.