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STOW — State Fire Marshal Issues Holiday Decorating Safety Tips
“The best way to prevent a Christmas tree fire is to water it well every day, place it well away from heat sources, and dispose of it soon after the holiday,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Although Christmas tree fires are rare these days, they are very serious when they do occur.” According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one-third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems and one-quarter start when the tree is placed too close to a heat source such as a fireplace, woodstove, radiator or space heater.
“It’s important to place your tree away from heating sources like fireplaces, woodstoves, radiators or portable heaters and make sure you don’t block your second way out of a room in case of emergency,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “Santa may be able to escape up the chimney, but you’ll need two clear pathways out of each room,” he added.
“Turn off the tree when leaving the house or going to sleep,” said Ostroskey, “Consider using a timer so you won’t forget.”
The U. S. Fire Administration website has a stunning video from the National Institute of Standards and Training (NIST) illustrating how a dry Christmas tree can act like a blowtorch in your living room and the National Fire Protection Association has side-by-side video showing a dry Christmas tree on fire and a well-watered Christmas tree on fire. The fire in a well–watered tree takes much longer to progress.
The State Fire Marshal offers these tips for safe use of outdoor lights:
Smoke and CO Alarms
Ostroskey said, “No one thinks they will experience a fire, but sadly so many do over the holidays. Be sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order and review your home escape plan with family and guests.”
For more information on fire safety, contact your local fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 1-877-9 NO FIRE or on-line at www.state.ma.us/dfs and search for Winter Holiday Safety.