As folks begin picking out that perfect Christmas tree and cranking up the heat as temperatures drop, there are some things to keep in mind and Stephenville Fire Inspector/Investigator Gregg Schrumpf provided the E-T with some tree and heater safety tips for this holiday season.
“When choosing a tree, look for one that is fresh and has green needles that don’t fall out,” Schrumpf said. “Brownish needles mean the tree is dried out and more prone to catch fire.”
Other Christmas tree safety tips include, watering your tree daily, checking holiday lights for frayed wires or excessive wear, keeping the tree at least three feet away from any heat source and always turning off the lights on your tree before going to bed or leaving the house.
“Make sure your tree is not blocking an exit. In case there is a fire, you want a way to get out,” Schrumpf said. “And get rid of a tree when its needles start dropping. It means the tree is drying out.”
An interesting video posted by the National Fire Protection Association back in 2007 titled “Christmas Tree Fire” can be found on YouTube, which demonstrates how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to one that has been watered regularly.
Besides Christmas trees, heater safety is also important as the temperatures begin to drop.
“Before using electric space heaters for the first time each season, check for fraying or splitting wires and overheating. If there are problems, have them fixed by a professional or buy a new heater,” Schrumpf said. “Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets; don’t use extension cords and don’t overload electrical outlets.”
Make sure to turn off heaters when you aren’t in the room and keep them at least three feet away from anything flammable.
With natural gas or propane space and wall heaters make sure there is enough air supply.
“Home heaters must have an air supply. Without it, they may produce carbon monoxide,” Schrumpf said. “Make sure that pilot lights are working properly and turn off the heaters if you smell fumes, your eyes sting or if you feel dizzy or nauseated.”
Never use the kitchen stove to heat your home and never store flammable liquids near heaters.
“Whether you have central heat, a fireplace, wood-burning stove, wall heaters, space heaters, or any combination of the above, an annual inspection by qualified professionals will help minimize risk and maximize winter comfort,” Schrumpf said.
Also be sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly this holiday season.