Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season

photoMy 12 year old son is currently obsessed with Mythbusters, the show on the Discovery Channel where two crazy special effects guys blow stuff up in the name of scientific analysis. The other day, we were watching a show from the second or maybe third season about combustible Christmas trees.  We learned that when a spark from an overloaded wall socket hits a dry tree Christmas tree, the ensuing blaze is incredibly cool to watch – on television.  As a homeowner about to set up our own tree for the season, I was appalled. According to my son, I shouted something at the TV that wasn’t very parentally responsible. I maintain I said “Holy Cow!”  Never mind, I’m here to tell you that a Christmas tree fire is a potential four alarm affair. No kidding.

Luckily, the Red Cross has some great advice about setting up Christmas trees while taking fire safety into account. Please consider the following suggestions:

  • Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees.
  • Give a live Christmas tree plenty of water to keep it moist and fresh.
  • Keep trees at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces or radiators.
  • Never put a candle on a Christmas tree.
  • Make sure lights are in good condition.
  • Safely dispose of trees as they become dry and needles begin to drop.
  • Don’t let old dried out trees hang around! Dispose of trees through recycling centers or community pick-up services.
  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets by not linking more than three light strands.
  • Use decorations that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to embrace the “metallic” Christmas tree, but I’m a firm believer in keeping the tree away from heat, not overloading the lights and turning it off for bedtimes and departures. The idea of Christmas lights getting hotter and hotter on my tree as I’m sleeping holds no appeal whatsoever.

Don’t believe us? Here’s a recent tweet from the Philadelphia fire department with some of the same ideas attached.

Of course, it’s not only the tree. We have a tendency to burn more things this time of year!


We open up our fireplaces and wood stoves. We get out our candles and oil lamps. It is our natural and human instinct to bring light to these darkest days near the winter solstice. And there is no more beautiful light than firelight. The Red Cross has a whole list of safety tips regarding these activities. Please follow this link to learn more.

We give you joy of the season. Please be so, so, so careful with your lights and flames.

— Posted by Communications Volunteer Sarah Peterson

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