Wisconsin Emergency Management

Are You Ready For Christmas? ReadyWisconsin has simple tips to keep the holiday safe.

Are You Ready for Christmas? The joys of the holidays are all around us, but so are the dangers. Between 2002 and 2004, holiday season fires claimed 415 lives and injured 1,650 more across the nation. Fires also cause more than $990 million in damage. These simple life-saving steps can ensure a safe and happy holiday for you and for family.

Kitchen and Tree Fire Dangers

Cooking Dangers: Cooking is the leading cause of residential fires in December. Cooks may be distracted with holiday guests, entertaining and last-minute details. 54% of these kitchen fires result from food or equipment left unattended or combustible items like oven mitts left too close to the cooking heat source. Dont leave food unattended and make sure stoves, ovens and ranges are turned off when you leave the kitchen. Set timers to keep track of food that requires extended cooking times.

Remember TLC Tree, Light and Candle Safety

T is for Tree

Tree Fire Hazards:

    From December 24th through 26th, fire deaths increase by 50%. Injuries go up 61%. And dollars lost go up 43%. As the season progresses and trees become drier, the incidence of fires worsens. From December 1-14 there is an average of 1.2 Christmas Tree fires a day. But between December 15-January 1 that number goes up to 7.7 Christmas Tree fires a day (National average fires between 1996 and 1998).

Selecting a Tree for the Holiday:

    Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Tree:

    Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree:

    Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

L is for Lights

Maintain Your Holiday Lights

    Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets

    Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch. And dont leave holiday lights on unattended.

Artificial Christmas Trees

    If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

C is for Candle

Avoid Using Lit Candles

    Candle use increases the incidence of holiday fires. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning. And keep candles at a height where children and pets can not reach them. And keep candles inside a one foot circle free from decorations and other combustible materials.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree

    Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.

ReadyWisconsin is an initiative of Wisconsin Emergency Management designed to educate and empower Wisconsinites to prepare for
and respond to all kinds of emergencies including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

Wisconsin Emergency Management
2400 Wright St.
Madison, WI 53704
Phone: 608.242.3000     Fax: 608.242.3247