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The 15 Days After Christmas May Be Cause for Concern?

HOUSTON, TX -- (Marketwire) -- 12/27/12 -- You gathered with family and friends, exchanged gifts, cooked a feast, and shared in the holiday cheer. Overall, you had a joyous holiday! Now, you are contemplating keeping the Christmas tree up until the New Year. You may want to think again. Michael Pruitt, fire safety expert, presents the following safety tips:

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments across the country responded to an average of 230 home fires that started with Christmas trees between 2006 to 2010 and one out of every 18 of those fires resulted in death. Nineteen percent of home Christmas tree structure fires were intentionally set with about 72% of the intentionally set Christmas tree fires occurring during the 15 days after Christmas. Many of those blazes are believed to be related to disposal of the Christmas tree.

When the holidays are over, dried-out trees pose a significant fire hazard and should not be left in the home, garage or outside against the home. Many communities have a recycling program for trees. This year, make an effort to use it.

If you opt to keep the Christmas tree up until the New Year, taking a few precautions can help make the holiday season safe and enjoyable.

  • If you have a live tree, make sure it is fresh with green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Add water to the tree stand, daily.
  • Where you place the tree is equally important. You want the tree at least three feet away from a heat source such as fireplaces, space heaters or lights. Be careful not to block an exit with the tree.
  • Outdoor electrical lights last longer and should be taken down and brought inside at the end of the season.

Any fire is traumatic, but none seem more so than during the holiday season. Having spent three-decades as a fire expert, I'd say 99% of fires are preventable. And that is the real tragedy. Help keep your families safe this holiday season by taking a few precautions.

Michael Pruitt, a veteran firefighter, has served as a Deputy Chief and Fire Chief in Texas. He is one of a handful of executives worldwide who holds the distinguished Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation. He is CEO of Michael Pruitt and Associates, a firm specializing in fire safety.

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