BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Holiday shopping, decorating, and baking might be some of the things you’re doing around this time of the year, but taking extra time out for safety is something you should definitely add to your holiday “to do” list.
The Bakersfield Fire Department said while they didn’t have the exact number, every year fire departments respond to an average of 160 fires caused by Christmas trees that are not properly maintained.
Nationwide, Christmas tree fires within households cause an average of three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage every year. So this time of year, the fire department is on high alert.
“Thanksgiving being the highest spike call volume, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the second throughout the entire year,” said BFD Battalion Chief Brian Bowman.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly one in five Christmas tree fires are started by decorative lights.
But that isn’t the only cause. Various types of heat sources such as candles or electrical equipment can also be a fire hazard when these items are too close to the tree.
“Putting it underneath one of your returns for your heating or air conditioning system is just going to dry it out that much faster so just think about the placement of your tree and try to keep it away from obviously heat sources, keep it watered, to keep it fresh as long as possible,” said Bowman.
Bowman said that proper maintenance is an important factor for avoiding a Christmas tree fire. Keeping a fresh tree past two to three weeks can also easily become a fire hazard.
“Even though we like the trees - they’re beautiful - we want to keep it up as long as possible, the tree is only good for two to three weeks max. So, to try to go into the new year with that tree unless you got it really late in the season, it's just not going to make it so then it's just becomes a fire hazard,” said Bowman.
Katie Allen PG&E spokesperson said that it is important to ensure the safety of not only indoor decorations but outdoor as well. She recommends that residents who use outdoor lighting decor should double and triple-check their wires and bulbs.
“As you go and fix that outdoor decor, throughout the holiday season, make sure that you don't have any broken bulbs, that all of the strands are in place, that you don't have any frayed wires that will reduce your fire risks significantly,” said Allen.
But if a fire were to occur in your household Bowman said that as materials can be replaced, human lives cannot. Grab all your loved ones and exit immediately.
“Get your pets, your kids, get everyone out of the house. Those things inside the house as much as we put value on, they’re replaceable. Whereas a human life or even a pet for that matter, is not,” said Bowman.
To keep your household and families safe they encourage everyone with family Christmas trees to take extra precautions, especially with lighting decor.