Fire Marshal’s Office Offers Holiday Safety Tips
HELENA – The office of the Montana State Fire Marshal reminded Montanans this week that some simple precautions can keep the holidays fun and safe.
“It is the season of candles, trees, paper, decorations and electricity, which if combined carelessly, can cause disaster. It is our goal to have a fire-incident-free Christmas season,” said Terry Phillips, State Fire Marshal.
Phillips offered a few reminders to families that choose to use a real Christmas tree.
- Check for freshness and dryness. Needles should not fall off when the tree is tapped or shaken. Phillips recommended grasping a branch firmly and pulling, allowing the branch to slip through. If the needles fall off readily, the tree does not have adequate moisture.
- Look for trees tagged as treated with an approved flame retardant.
- Leave the tree outside until it is time to decorate.
- Prior to setting up a tree, the trunk should have a fresh bottom cut on a diagonal at least an inch above the original cut. Support stands should be filled with hot tap water and the water level should be at least two inches above the butt of the tree. A six-foot-tall tree will “drink” about a gallon of water every two days.
- Mix a commercial preservative with the water and check the water level daily.
- Secure the tree with a wire to keep it from tipping over.
- Clean the tree stand to improve water intake. Use one cap of bleach per cup of water.
- Keep the tree away from floor heaters, fireplaces and other heat sources.
- Dispose of the tree properly and never burn a real tree in a fireplace.
Phillips also offered some pointers for decorations used on both real and artificial trees.
- Only use lights approved by Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) and never link more than three strands together.
- Do not use lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Phillips recommended miniature lights, which have cool-burning bulbs.
- Do not use candles, even on artificial trees.
- Always unplug the Christmas tree lights before going to sleep.