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Stay Safe with Holiday Decorations

With the holiday season upon us, the San Bernardino County Fire Department would like to remind residents of the following holiday decorating and natural Christmas tree safety tips.

Before you put up any electrically lighted decorations, you should check the equipment to make sure it will operate safely. Check for burned-out lights, empty sockets, and broken bulbs. Inspect wires carefully for breaks, fraying, and damaged connections before energizing your holiday decorations. Any damaged strands of lights should be thrown out.

Miniature lights produce less heat and reduce drying on a natural tree. Always check lights for frayed or cracked wiring and broken sockets before placing on a tree. Do not attempt to repair a worn light—throw it away! Turn off tree lights when leaving the house or before going to bed. Avoid overloading circuits. Plug no more than three light sets into a single outlet.

Place the tree away from heat sources: heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, T.V. sets, or sunny windows. Keep rearranged furniture away from heat sources as well. Be careful not to block a door with the tree or with rearranged furniture.

After the holidays, remove a natural tree from the house as soon as possible. Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace; it burns too fast and is explosive! The best alternative is to RECYCLE your tree through your local city or county program. Have a safe and Happy Holiday season!

Remember to Water Your Christmas Tree

As decorations continue to be put up, we want to remind you to water your Christmas tree. When a Christmas tree is cut, more than half its weight is water. With proper care, you can maintain the quality of your tree.

  • checkedWatering is critical. A freshly-cut tree can consume a gallon of water in 24 hours!
  • crossedNever let the water level go below the tree’s base. Too little water causes the resin to form over the cut end of the trunk. Once that happens, the tree stops absorbing water and dries out quickly.
  • checkedIndoors, keep the tree away from heating ducts or other heat sources. Keeping the tree away from heating sources will keep the tree from drying. In fact, the lower the temperature the better the tree will do.
  • checkedCheck the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, water still may reside in the base of the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.
  • checkedContinue to monitor your tree for dryness. Run your fingers across the needles to determine if they are dry and brittle. If the needles break easily of fall in your hand, the tree is dry and should be removed from the house. A well-cared-for tree should normally remain fresh at least three to four weeks before drying to an unacceptable level.

Keeping your tree watered will keep your tree from drying. A dry tree can easily catch fire. U.S. Fire departments responded to an estimated average of 200 home structure fires per year that began with Christmas trees in 2011-2015.

Stay safe and have a happy holiday season!