Deck the halls, not set them on fire

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Happy Holidays from Dover AFB Fire and Emergency services flight! During 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires all of which started with a Christmas tree. Each year, these fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage. Of those, electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 40% of the home Christmas tree fires. In 26% of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, a heat source was too close to the tree. 42% of reported home Christmas tree fires occurred in December and 37% were reported in January.
When decking the halls this holiday season, keep these safety tips in mind:

Tree Selection and Placement

• Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that
do not fall off when touched.
• Cut 2” from the trunk base before placing the
tree in the stand.
• Add water daily to tree stand.
• Place 3+ feet away from heat source (i.e.
fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or
• Never block exits or pathways with a tree or

Tree and Home Decoration

• Use lights that had completed testing and
received the Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
(UL) label and designed for intended indoor or
outdoor purpose.
• Replace any light string with worn or broken
cords or loose bulb connections.
• Read manufacturer's instructions and follow
the limits on the number of light strands to
• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before
leaving home or going to bed.
• Use care when using ladder; stay alert to
overhead wires or slick or uneven ground.

If using an artificial tree, follow same placement and lighting tips (just don’t water it).
After Christmas Removal

• Remove tree soon after Christmas. Dried-out
trees are a fire danger and should not be left
in the home, garage, or against the home.
• Check with your local community to find a
recycling program.
• Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the
holidays to reduce hazard and damage to

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during December, January, and February. These simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

• Keep anything that can burn 3+ feet away
from heating equipment (i.e. furnace,
fireplace, wood stove, or portable space
• Maintain a three-foot “kid-free zone” around
open fires and space heaters.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary
space heating equipment, water heaters, or
central heating equipment according to the
local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Have heating equipment/chimneys cleaned
and inspected annually by a qualified
• Turn off portable heaters when leaving the
room or going to bed.
• Use manufacturer’s specified fuel for use in
space heaters.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to
stop sparks from flying into the room. When
cool, put ashes into a metal container; keep
the container a safe distance away from
• Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide
detectors at least once a month.
• Plug portable heaters into wall outlets, never
into power strips or extension cords.

If you do experience a fire, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Fires can spread rapidly. You may not realize a fire is outside your control until it is too late. When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
Call 911 or a local emergency number after exiting.

The Dover AFB Fire Emergency organization encourages families to continue fire safety measures while celebrating this holiday season. Evidence has shown us that fires happen, but with careful and attentive preparation, they can often be avoided. ‘Tis the season to be freeze’n, but don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. Stay warm, stay safe and enjoy a fire-free holiday.

For additional information or questions, contact the Dover AFB Fire Prevention office at 677-4401.