Christmas Tree, Holiday Safety Tips

12/18/20194 years ago

caution sign The information on this page may be outdated as it was published 4 years ago.

Xmas tree inside container
Please read these holiday safety reminders from Acting Fire Chief Gerry Mahoney and MA State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey:

Holiday Trees:

Selecting a Tree: Give natural trees a fresh cut at base and place in water immediately. Buy a tree that is as fresh as possible. Grab a branch near top of tree and pull your hand along it slowly. Needles should not fall off. If you bend a needle and it breaks before bending in half, it’s too dry! If you use an artificial tree, select one with a flame retardant label.

• Caring for the Tree: Make a fresh cut an inch or two off bottom before placing it stand. This will help with absorption. Water a live tree every day. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.

• Placing the Tree: Place your tree in a non-tip style stand with wide feet, using extra wires if needed to keep it steady. Keep doorways and exits clear. Place your tree and decorations away from heaters, fireplaces, candles, and other sources of heat.

• Decorating the Tree: Purchase electric holiday lights that are listed by an approved testing agency and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Consider switching to newer LED lights that are cooler and use less electricity. Inspect older lights for frayed wires or other defects. Make sure the bulbs themselves are not touching the tree, curtains, wrapped gifts, or tree skirts. Never use lighted candles as decorations. Turn off the lights when leaving the house or going to bed for the night.

• Disposing of the Tree: Remove your tree soon after the holidays and take advantage of the Cambridge DPW pickup or recycling programs. Check with DPW for your collection schedule.

Outdoor Decorations:

Use only lights rated for outdoor use.
Consider replacing older outdoor lights with newer LED lights that are ‘greener’ and cooler.
Securely anchor outdoor lights and decorations against the wind and storms with insulated holders or hooks.
Use electrical connection protectors to keep water out.
All outdoor electrical decorations should be plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Buy portable units for outdoor use or have them permanently installed by an electrician.
Don’t overload circuits. 15 amp circuits support 1,800 watts and 20 amp circuits support 2,400 watts. 
Do not drive nails, staples or tacks through wiring insulation; this can cause a fire.
Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and extend their life. 

Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors:

Ensure that your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order and review your home escape plan with family and guests. As always, include your pets in the escape plan.