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Light the Christmas tree without lighting a fire

Extinguish your church's chance of fire hazards during the winter season

Did you know?

"Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented. Direct property loss due to fires is estimated at $8.6 billion annually." (Source: FEMA)

Christmas trees and holiday decorations are a traditional part of celebrating Christmas. It's common for churches to deck the halls, but don't let the celebration distract you from protecting your church.

"Christmas trees account for 250 fires annually, resulting in 14 deaths, 26 injuries and more than $13.8 million in property damage. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires," according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

By taking these precautions, you can provide a safe haven to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the real reason for the season.

Christmas trees

  • Live tree. If you've purchased a natural tree, keep the stand filled with water. The key to a safe tree is to keep it wet. As the tree gets older, it will dry out and the needles will fall off. After Christmas, remove your tree within two weeks.
  • Artificial tree. This could be a safe alternative to a natural tree. But make sure the artificial tree is flame retardant. And if it comes pre-lit, the bulbs with the anti-twist feature are safer.

Other holiday decorations

  • Holiday lights. If you're reusing holiday lights, inspect them for frayed wires, broken bulbs, damaged sockets and extreme wear. Linking more than three light strands can overload an electrical outlet. Plug the lights into an extension cord before plugging the cord in the wall. During use, the wires should not be warm. And don't leave the lights on overnight or unattended.
  • Candles. Candles may be an essential part of holiday decorations, but keep them away from the Christmas tree or other flammable objects. They should be in stable holders away from small children or the chance to be knocked over. If your church holds a candlelight ceremony, check with the local fire department. The city may require a permit or off-duty firefighters to monitor the service.
  • Other decorations. Before buying or reusing decorations, make sure they are nonflammable.

Before pulling out the old decorations or going to the store for new ones, take a look at your smoke detectors and alarms. Test them and put in new batteries. To avoid possibly blowing an electrical circuit, disperse the outlets used. But power strips are a safe way to plug several things into one outlet.