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Preventing Christmas tree fires during the holiday season

Tree fires cause an average of 7 deaths annually, 19 injuries

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It takes a Christmas tree just 30 seconds to fill a room with toxic smoke and 60 to burn down your entire living room. While the holiday season may be fun, it also poses a serious safety hazard to your family.

Bringing attention to these dangers, Erie Insurance and the Erie Fire Department staged a fire in a vacant home to show people what can happen if homeowners don't take proper precautions.

"It's critical that homeowners understand the risks, and it's up to us to train the public about fire safety, especially around this time of year," said Chief Guy Santone, Erie Fire Department.

Recent data from the National Fire Protection Association shows Christmas trees resulted in an annual average of seven civilian deaths, 19 injuries and $17.5 million in direct property damage during a four-year period.

Officials are offering the following tips to ensure a wonderful holiday season:

  • Quench your tree's thirst: Make sure you water your tree daily. A drier tree burns faster and is a greater hazard.
  • Get rid of the tree sooner: Nearly 40% of tree-caused fires happen in January. Make sure to remove your tree in a timely manner.
  • Check your electricity: One out of every three Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems, so don't connect more than the maximum number of light strands recommended by the manufacturer. Don't forget to check them for any damage or broken bulbs! 
  • Keep a safe distance: A tree by the fireplace might sound warm and cozy, but it's more of a danger. Keep your tree at least three feet away from sources of heat.
  • Properly handle candles: For those that celebrate Chanukah, consider getting battery-powered flameless candles instead. December is the peak time of the year for home candle fires.