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Lighting up Christmas: Fire safety tips for your real tree

It’s been a difficult year for many, as we’ve navigated the consequences and new norms brought by the pandemic. But that’s all the more reason to put everything into Christmas and bring some joy before the year’s out. As we all try to make what we can of the festivities and celebrations, this Christmas there’s a need to be even more vigilant where fire safety is concerned.

If you’re considering getting a real Christmas tree this year, you may be more at risk of a rapidly burning fire if you don’t take the right precautions. From choosing the right tree to knowing how to safely get rid of it, we’ve compiled our top tips to ensure Christmas is a memorable one for all the right reasons.

Choosing a tree

If you’re on the hunt for a real Christmas tree, take care to find one that’s appropriate for the space you’re planning it for. Consider its surroundings within the chosen room and take measurements for width and height. Pick a tree that has fresh green needles that don’t fall off when brushed against and ensure its trunk feels sticky to the touch. Trees that shed their needles easily have likely been cut too long, are drying out and pose a fire hazard. Plus, in the haste to get all the decorations up as early as possible this year, it’s worth bearing in mind that a real Christmas tree will only look good and remain safe for about two weeks.

Finding the best place for your tree

Of course you’ll want your beautifully decorated Christmas tree to take pride and place in your home and be easily visible to any passers-by outside. But think carefully about the safest place for it. Christmas trees should never be stood near an open source of flame or heat, as this will dry out the tree and give it a better chance of igniting. You should also ensure the tree isn’t blocking an exit.

Taking care of your tree

Always bear in mind the three ingredients of the ‘fire triangle’ – fuel, oxygen and heat are needed to produce a fire. A dry Christmas tree is a material that can easily serve as fuel for a fire so taking steps to keep your tree in as good a condition as possible is vital. Stand your tree in a bucket of water and top up the water daily. A dry tree could result in your home becoming engulfed in flames within seconds of it catching fire.

Decorations made of tissue paper or cardboard hanging from the tree’s branches pose a fire hazard too and candles should be kept well out of the way. Be cautious when choosing fairy lights – check the fuses are the correct type, don’t overload sockets and place them carefully on the tree (not near anything that could easily burn). Also, double check the Christmas tree lights are turned off every night and whenever you leave the house.

Year-round fire precautions are just as important now

Is your home kitted out with the appropriate fire protection equipment? It’s a good time of year to prioritise installing it if you’re without – or giving it an inspection if it’s already in place. A well-maintained smoke alarm could make that life-saving difference if a fire was to break out in your home this Christmas. The #TestItTuesday campaign is still going strong on social media. The campaign, which was devised by Fire and Rescue Services throughout the UK, carries a simple and important message: smoke alarms can save lives if they’re working properly. We’ll continue to help raise awareness of the campaign and encourage home and business owners to test their smoke alarms weekly. Fire blankets and our compact but high-performing MultiCHEM two-litre fire extinguisher are ideal for the home setting and provide that extra peace of mind and protection.

Safely disposing of your tree

Dried out trees are a fire hazard so take down your tree soon after the festivities have finished. Don’t risk leaving it lying around the house or in the garage – take it to a recycling centre or look into local pick-up services in your area.

This year, as the family gathers excitedly to decorate your real Christmas tree, take into consideration these basic fire safety tips – they could save lives. Last year, the London Fire Brigade raised awareness of the dangers by sharing shocking video footage that demonstrated just how quickly a Christmas tree fire can take hold. Take every precaution to ensure this isn’t your home.

CheckFire wishes everyone a safe and happy Christmas.

  • by Ayshalee Morton

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