According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), each year, fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Carefully decorating Christmas trees can keep your home and loved ones safe. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that approximately 15,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every holiday season for injuries related to Christmas trees and holiday decorating.
“The last thing anyone wants in their home is a Christmas tree-related fire and end up in the emergency room hurt,” says Daniel Checco, D.O., emergency medicine physician at the Silver Cross Emergency Care Center in Homer Glen. “Although if they find themselves seriously injured from a burn, seek medical attention immediately.”
Follow these Christmas tree safety tips to keep the holiday season safe for all:
Picking the Tree
• If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
• Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Placing the Tree
• Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1″ – 2″ from the base of the trunk.
• Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
• Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
Lighting the Tree
• Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
Emergency Care Nearby
Even with the utmost caution, Christmas-related injuries can still occur. It is good to know peace of mind is just minutes away at the Silver Cross Emergency Care Center located at 143rd and Bell Rd. in Homer Glen. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Center is staffed with board certified emergency medicine physicians and nurses. Located in the same building is the Silver Cross Health Center offering MRI, CT, X-ray, Ultrasound, EKG and laboratory services. A physician’s order is required. To request an appointment for a test, click here or call (815) 300-7076. There are also several primary and specialty physician offices and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross.