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What is the risk of a Christmas tree fire?


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#1 jdahlquist

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:17 PM

What do you think the risk of a Christmas tree fire is?  My local fire department sent an email with a warning about Christmas tree fires.  Some of the "useful" facts presented were:

 

Most Christmas tree fires occur in December and January (and very few occur February-November)

Many of the fires are associated with trees located in a family room, living room, den--in fact all of the deaths in the US in recent years due to Christmas tree fires were started in on of these rooms

 

If you are wondering, there are, on average 200 Christmas tree fires per year in the US.  One-fourth of those were intentionally set.  So, 150 unintentional tree fires per year in the US warrants an alarming email warning.  



#2 Elizabeth86

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:27 PM

Oh my!

#3 Guinevere

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:30 PM

So I just need to move my tree to my bedroom, and I'm good.

Mythbusters has a neat episode about this. They wrap lots and lots and lots of lights around a Christmas tree to see if they can get it to ignite. I can't remember how it turned out, lol.
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#4 Rach

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:30 PM

That’s a lot! Are those real or artificial trees ? What kind of lights are being used?

#5 JIN MOUSA

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:33 PM

So I just need to move my tree to my bedroom, and I'm good.

Mythbusters has a neat episode about this. They wrap lots and lots and lots of lights around a Christmas tree to see if they can get it to ignite. I can't remember how it turned out, lol.

 

Sounds legit to me. Good reasoning there!


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#6 Jean in Newcastle

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:43 PM

Our local fire department has had ads on tv warning of Christmas tree fires and space heater fires. I don’t think that it hurts us to be aware.


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#7 CES2005

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:44 PM

The risk is 150 divided by however many U.S. households put up a tree... hmm... That said, we unplug ours every night and if we'll be gone long during the day. :)

Edited by CES2005, 12 December 2017 - 11:45 PM.

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#8 jdahlquist

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:50 PM

Last year we were visiting friends in Austria.  They had what I thought were icicle decorations.  Then they struck a match and lighted the sparklers on their real Christmas tree. 

 

The report I have said that 18% of the fires are from decorative lights and 15% because of a heater.  But, sparklers on the tree weren't even mentioned.   


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#9 melmichigan

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:58 PM

I still remember the story of the Christmas tree fire a few years ago.  The video of how quickly trees watered in different ways ignite was a lesson for everyone that keeps a live tree.



#10 Sassenach

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:59 PM

Last year we were visiting friends in Austria. They had what I thought were icicle decorations. Then they struck a match and lighted the sparklers on their real Christmas tree.

The report I have said that 18% of the fires are from decorative lights and 15% because of a heater. But, sparklers on the tree weren't even mentioned.


That must have been something!

#11 underthebridge

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:12 AM

I think we should be careful but if you do the math, it’s not common. There are about 125 million households in the US, and let’s say that there are 80 million trees (about 65%). 150 divided by 80,000,000 is about one in 5 million.

ETA 125 million, not 125

Edited by underthebridge, 13 December 2017 - 12:13 AM.

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#12 stefgray

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:14 AM

That is very common in my home country, too (Germany), as are real candles. You burn them for just a short while and watch them all the time.

 

Last year we were visiting friends in Austria.  They had what I thought were icicle decorations.  Then they struck a match and lighted the sparklers on their real Christmas tree. 

 

 


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#13 Starr

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:18 AM

Fires are serious but for fun, just put your tree up from February - November. :D


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#14 Carrie12345

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 05:33 AM

I consider it a legitimate notification due to the fact that we can take simple measures to prevent it.  It's primarily un- and under-watered real trees that are at risk, so water your real tree well.  Old lights that have been tangled and untangled for years are a risk, so take careful care of your lights and replace them before they're very worn.  Trees near a heat source are at risk, so place them away from heat sources.  When no one is home to enjoy the tree, unplug it.

 

The fact that a tree can go up so quickly is the big issue.  If those 3 simple measures can prevent 150 houses from being completely destroyed, do them.

 

ETA: 4. I wrote 4 simple measures.


Edited by Carrie12345, 13 December 2017 - 05:34 AM.

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#15 Laura Corin

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 05:55 AM

We used to clip candles to the tree when I was small and light them.  I suspect current risk is low in comparison.....


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#16 Diana P.

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 06:04 AM

No there is not a huge percentage of fires compared to households who gave a live tree.

However when a tree does catch fire it burns quickly and the results are devastating.
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#17 maize

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 06:07 AM

What do you think the risk of a Christmas tree fire is? My local fire department sent an email with a warning about Christmas tree fires. Some of the "useful" facts presented were:

Most Christmas tree fires occur in December and January (and very few occur February-November)
Many of the fires are associated with trees located in a family room, living room, den--in fact all of the deaths in the US in recent years due to Christmas tree fires were started in on of these rooms

If you are wondering, there are, on average 200 Christmas tree fires per year in the US. One-fourth of those were intentionally set. So, 150 unintentional tree fires per year in the US warrants an alarming email warning.


So if my tree makes it to February I'm out of the woods and can keep it up all year, yes?
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#18 Night Elf

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 06:14 AM

So I just need to move my tree to my bedroom, and I'm good.

Mythbusters has a neat episode about this. They wrap lots and lots and lots of lights around a Christmas tree to see if they can get it to ignite. I can't remember how it turned out, lol.

 

They couldn't start a fire with just lights. They had to use an igniter to  get it going then once it did, it burned fast.


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#19 J-rap

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 06:26 AM

I mostly think it's weird that they feel they have to mention that most of those fires are in December and January and in public rooms.  Isn't that pretty obvious?  


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#20 marbel

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 07:47 AM

<snip>

 

Most Christmas tree fires occur in December and January (and very few occur February-November)

Many of the fires are associated with trees located in a family room, living room, den--in fact all of the deaths in the US in recent years due to Christmas tree fires were started in on of these rooms

 

<snip>

 

I wonder if this was the beginning of the email, and meant to be amusing in order to get people to keep reading?  Trying to come off a little snarky, maybe?  Were there actual useful facts and suggestions following?   'Cause this is pretty pointless.



#21 MedicMom

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 08:24 AM

When my dad first started in the fire service in the 1970s, tree fires were incredibly common. I don’t have the stats, of course, but his small department would see 2-3 a Christmas season. The risk comes from having a live, dry tree. The bulbs can get very hot and ignite a branch that’s dry.

As the bulbs have become safer and less hot, and people have gravitated more towards fake trees, plus increased awareness, Christmas tree fires have dropped dramatically. I saw two in ten years as a firefighter.

If you don’t water your tree and have an older style light bulb, you still run a good sized risk. So I think all the PSAs this time of year are warranted.

Also, you’d be surprised how many people have Christmas trees in their bedrooms. As a paramedic I get to be in a lot of strangers bedrooms ;)—and I’ve seen many Christmas trees in them(often a smaller tree that is just decoration, they aren’t leaving presents under them). Christmas tree fires in bedrooms are less common, because people wake up quicker to fires in bedrooms and are able to escape or put the fire out easier.

Edited by MedicMom, 13 December 2017 - 08:26 AM.

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#22 EmilyGF

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 08:25 AM

Not common, clearly, but easy to have if not careful. And bad, because dry trees burn really really well when supplied with branches and needles for kindling.

Our friend's neighbor's house was burnt to the basement when they left the lights on the tree on accidentally when going on vacation. I will never forget how little of the house was left and you better believe I'm super careful about watering and turning off lights.

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#23 eternalsummer

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 08:26 AM

Our local fire department has had ads on tv warning of Christmas tree fires and space heater fires. I don’t think that it hurts us to be aware.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

google says there are 25,000 space heater fires per year


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#24 maize

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 08:55 AM

When my dad first started in the fire service in the 1970s, tree fires were incredibly common. I don’t have the stats, of course, but his small department would see 2-3 a Christmas season. The risk comes from having a live, dry tree. The bulbs can get very hot and ignite a branch that’s dry.

As the bulbs have become safer and less hot, and people have gravitated more towards fake trees, plus increased awareness, Christmas tree fires have dropped dramatically. I saw two in ten years as a firefighter.

If you don’t water your tree and have an older style light bulb, you still run a good sized risk. So I think all the PSAs this time of year are warranted.

Also, you’d be surprised how many people have Christmas trees in their bedrooms. As a paramedic I get to be in a lot of strangers bedrooms ;)—and I’ve seen many Christmas trees in them(often a smaller tree that is just decoration, they aren’t leaving presents under them). Christmas tree fires in bedrooms are less common, because people wake up quicker to fires in bedrooms and are able to escape or put the fire out easier.


Building codes usually call for fire alarms in and near bedrooms but not living rooms as well.

#25 SusanC

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 08:56 AM

I wonder how the 150 tree fires compares to turkey fryer call-outs and fireworks initiated garage fires.

Is slipping on the ice equally our more dangerous (in areas that get ice)?

Is it riskier to drive Christmas Eve for last minute presents?

Of course not all of these would involve the fire department.
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#26 eternalsummer

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:03 AM

Google says that turkey fryer fires are roughly equivalent in frequency and death rate to christmas tree fires; you're twice as likely to be in a crash on Christmas but it is hard to say if that is mostly just more people driving around or not.

 

could not get stats on slipping on ice (vs just slipping in general)


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#27 marbel

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:04 AM

I wonder how the 150 tree fires compares to turkey fryer call-outs and fireworks initiated garage fires.

<snip>

 

My son is a volunteer firefighter for a small suburban station.  One year they got 2 calls the day before Thanksgiving, and 1 the day of, all to the same house.  Yep, turkey fryer.


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#28 Annie G

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:07 AM

I want to hear more about the 50 trees that are intentionally set on fire.  WHO DOES THAT????

 

I'm surprised that there were no bedroom tree fires. I know a surprising number of people who have trees in each kid's bedroom. 

 

But for real...who burns down their own tree? If it's someone who wants to burn the house down to collect insurance, you're telling me they have the patience to wait until holiday season?  Well, I guess if they burned their tree down in July it would be suspicious...


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#29 RoundAbout

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:08 AM

My mother works in the water and fire restoration business and says she has never seen a Christmas tree fire. Mostly what she warns me about are candles, kitchen fires, and certain appliances left running while people are out like dryers.


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#30 Where's Toto?

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:13 AM

I want to hear more about the 50 trees that are intentionally set on fire.  WHO DOES THAT????

 

I'm surprised that there were no bedroom tree fires. I know a surprising number of people who have trees in each kid's bedroom. 

 

But for real...who burns down their own tree? If it's someone who wants to burn the house down to collect insurance, you're telling me they have the patience to wait until holiday season?  Well, I guess if they burned their tree down in July it would be suspicious...

 

I found that odd too.  I hope those people don't have kids.  A house fire is devastating at any time but I think it would be extra upsetting to children to have it happen at Christmas.


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#31 Guinevere

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:14 AM

I want to hear more about the 50 trees that are intentionally set on fire. WHO DOES THAT????

I'm surprised that there were no bedroom tree fires. I know a surprising number of people who have trees in each kid's bedroom.

But for real...who burns down their own tree? If it's someone who wants to burn the house down to collect insurance, you're telling me they have the patience to wait until holiday season? Well, I guess if they burned their tree down in July it would be suspicious...

We used to live a little further south, so New Year's eve was a great night for a cookout. We also used real trees back then, so we made a tradition of torching the tree on New Year's eve. We had room, and obviously did it outside, so we were safe. It was the neatest thing to see it burn.

Edited because auto correct.

Edited by Guinevere, 13 December 2017 - 09:15 AM.

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#32 Annie G

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:16 AM

We used to live a little further south, so New Year's eve was a great night for a cookout. We also used real trees back then, so we made a tradition of torching the tree on New Year's eve. We had room, and obviously did it outside, so we were safe. It was the neatest thing to see it burn.

Edited because auto correct.

 

Oh yeah, burning a tree outside is different. I think the OP meant 50 trees were intentionally set on fire INSIDE.  Perhaps with too much beer a person might miss that all important step of moving the tree outside before lighting that match...



#33 luuknam

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:32 AM

What do you think the risk of a Christmas tree fire is?  My local fire department sent an email with a warning about Christmas tree fires.  Some of the "useful" facts presented were:

 

Most Christmas tree fires occur in December and January (and very few occur February-November)

Many of the fires are associated with trees located in a family room, living room, den--in fact all of the deaths in the US in recent years due to Christmas tree fires were started in on of these rooms

 

 

I didn't have a real estimate, other than "pretty low risk", and "the risk probably depends on whether you use electrical lights or candles".

 

But, anyhow, thanks for letting us know that the xmas tree should be in the bathroom, bedroom, or basement, from February-November, got it. Maybe I'll put real candles on it, like my grandparents did, so I don't have to worry about electrical fires. (to be clear, I assume the risk is substantially higher for candles, though the one difference is that I wouldn't leave candles on when not in the room, whereas I have left electrical xmas tree lights on overnight, and it'd probably be safer to have something catch on fire while I'm there than while I'm asleep (which, of course, could be solved by not leaving either kind on when not in the room))

 

ETA: our tree is fake.


Edited by luuknam, 13 December 2017 - 09:36 AM.

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#34 jdahlquist

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 10:52 AM

I wonder if this was the beginning of the email, and meant to be amusing in order to get people to keep reading?  Trying to come off a little snarky, maybe?  Were there actual useful facts and suggestions following?   'Cause this is pretty pointless.

These did not seem to be used as hooks to keep the reader reading.  There was, for example, a pie chart showing how what percentage of fires begin in December, January, and then the rest of the year.  Everything was presented in a very scientific research way.  In fact the top of the sheet said "FACT SHEET->->->RESEARCH highlighted and in bold.

 

There was no mention of things to do to reduce risk, like watering the tree properly.  So, it was fairly useless to the average reader.

 

If you were going to use any deductive reasoning you would conclude:  if you have your tree up in February, in a bedroom, with candles on it, you have low risk.  


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#35 transientChris

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:03 AM

One thing that may cause more fires than necessary is the earlier and earlier Christmas season.  When I saw that trees were being delivered a full week and a half before Christmas here, I decided once again to go with a tree farm and chop our own tree. We do not have it up yet.  I will be conferring with family members which day soon we will get the tree.  Then we keep it watered.  We take it down after January 6th.  We do have outdoor lights up already and a small Poinsettia too.  Even if we aren't doing the tree yet, I am going to try to get my youngest to help me decorate more for Christmas today.  

 

Buying a tree that was cut down in early November to mid November and then putting it up before Thanksgiving or just not buying it then and buying later when the tree has been dehydrating on the lot for weeks is what can increase fire risks.  


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#36 MedicMom

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:13 AM

Was it just a pie chart of overall fires, not Christmas tree fires.
Most residential fires, statistically occur November-January. Space heaters, wood stoves, gas ovens being used as a heat source, and overburdened electrical systems are generally to blame.
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#37 jdahlquist

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:23 AM

Was it just a pie chart of overall fires, not Christmas tree fires.
Most residential fires, statistically occur November-January. Space heaters, wood stoves, gas ovens being used as a heat source, and overburdened electrical systems are generally to blame.

No, the pie charts was only for "home structure fires in which a christmas tree was ignited"

 

There was no mention of other types of fires (which are statistically much more likely to happen)



#38 MedicMom

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:28 AM

No, the pie charts was only for "home structure fires in which a christmas tree was ignited"

There was no mention of other types of fires (which are statistically much more likely to happen)


That is weird.
On the other hand, firemen are not generally noted for their excellent writing skills. (Taken from my admittedly small sample size)

#39 happi duck

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:34 AM

Awareness has greatly reduced the number of fires for homes with live trees. Those stats may seem humorous but I think it's important that firehouses keep up the tradition of community awareness.

I notice each year when our station puts up its wreath with the red bulbs. It's a reminder for holiday fire safety. A bulb is taken off for each house fire so the goal is to keep the wreath lit. All the town's around here have one. I'm assuming it is national.

Eta: if there is a holiday related fire a bulb is changed to white. The goal is to "keep the wreath red". Thanks google!

Eta: sounds like maybe the wreath is a state thing
.

Edited by happi duck, 13 December 2017 - 12:19 PM.

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#40 jdahlquist

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:39 AM

I want to hear more about the 50 trees that are intentionally set on fire.  WHO DOES THAT????

 

I'm surprised that there were no bedroom tree fires. I know a surprising number of people who have trees in each kid's bedroom. 

 

But for real...who burns down their own tree? If it's someone who wants to burn the house down to collect insurance, you're telling me they have the patience to wait until holiday season?  Well, I guess if they burned their tree down in July it would be suspicious...

The same organization reports that there are over 260,000 intentional fires set each year (so the 50 Christmas trees intentionally set on fire is not a significant cause of intentional fires)  


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#41 eternalsummer

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:43 AM

Yes, but how many of those are people setting their own homes on fire?

 

On the other hand, I seriously doubt this email was meant to discourage setting your own tree on fire on purpose, because if I'm going to burn down my house by setting my tree on fire, an email from the fire station warning me that occasionally people do this successfully without even meaning to is not going to change my mind.


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#42 barnwife

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:44 AM

Awareness has greatly reduced the number of fires for homes with live trees. Those stats may seem humorous but I think it's important that firehouses keep up the tradition of community awareness.

I notice each year when our station puts up its wreath with the red bulbs. It's a reminder for holiday fire safety. A bulb is taken off for each house fire so the goal is to keep the wreath lit. All the town's around here have one. I'm assuming it is national.

 

Huh...I've never heard of such a wreath. I'll ask DH if any stations around here have one.
 



#43 maize

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:49 AM

I've never heard of the fire station wreath thing either.
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#44 Bluegoat

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:50 AM

One thing that may cause more fires than necessary is the earlier and earlier Christmas season.  When I saw that trees were being delivered a full week and a half before Christmas here, I decided once again to go with a tree farm and chop our own tree. We do not have it up yet.  I will be conferring with family members which day soon we will get the tree.  Then we keep it watered.  We take it down after January 6th.  We do have outdoor lights up already and a small Poinsettia too.  Even if we aren't doing the tree yet, I am going to try to get my youngest to help me decorate more for Christmas today.  

 

Buying a tree that was cut down in early November to mid November and then putting it up before Thanksgiving or just not buying it then and buying later when the tree has been dehydrating on the lot for weeks is what can increase fire risks.  

 

The Christmas tree sellers here used to sell starting around the beginning of the second week of Dec, and wrap up Christmas eve day.

 

Now you can't even get a tree the week before Christmas.  We always go the last da they are open, around the 18th or 19th. My friend's family doesn't put yup a tree until the 24th, Santa brings it and puts it up at night, and one year they almost missed getting a tree - they now hide it at a neighbours yard.

 

But they are usually cut the end of October, which is when they start shipping them overseas in refrigerated containers. So, no wonder they don't hold there needles.



#45 jdahlquist

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:52 AM

Yes, but how many of those are people setting their own homes on fire?

 

On the other hand, I seriously doubt this email was meant to discourage setting your own tree on fire on purpose, because if I'm going to burn down my house by setting my tree on fire, an email from the fire station warning me that occasionally people do this successfully without even meaning to is not going to change my mind.

I am a bit perplexed to determine what the purpose of the email was.

 

If it is to raise awareness of the dangers of Christmas tree fires, it made me realize that statistically it isn't that great of a chance of occurring.

 

It didn't provide any "how to reduce the risk" tips.


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#46 regentrude

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:01 PM

The Christmas tree sellers here used to sell starting around the beginning of the second week of Dec, and wrap up Christmas eve day.

 

Now you can't even get a tree the week before Christmas.  We always go the last da they are open, around the 18th or 19th. My friend's family doesn't put yup a tree until the 24th, Santa brings it and puts it up at night, and one year they almost missed getting a tree - they now hide it at a neighbours yard.

 

But they are usually cut the end of October, which is when they start shipping them overseas in refrigerated containers. So, no wonder they don't hold there needles.

 

We had trouble our first year, because back home, you buy the tree after the 20th and put it up on the 24th. So, there was not a single tree to be had in our town, and we had to drive to a farm 50 miles away to cut one, tie it on the roof, and bring it home.

 

I learned my lesson and get mine early now. I buy a tree that has been grown in my state, so it does not have to be shipped from goodness knows where. I keep it in the garage in a bowl of water until it is time to be put up, and it lasts just fine until Epiphany (Jan 6)


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#47 Laura Corin

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:53 PM

I buy a tree from a local homeless charity. This year they ship fresh on 16 December. We will have it in water until 12th night.
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#48 Garga

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:57 PM

Haven't had a chance to read all the posts and have to run out the door.

 

Has anyone talked yet about a tree preservation recipe for the water?  We use one.  I don't know how much it actually works, but it's supposed to help the tree soak up more water and be less flammable.  

Here's an article with a couple of recipes.  We use the one with the bleach and corn syrup.

 

https://lajollamom.c...ehold-products/


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#49 creekland

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 01:06 PM

I want to know how much those researchers got paid. Seems like a cushy job... ;)
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#50 hjffkj

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 01:08 PM

Has anyone done research on how the tree will burn if watered daily but your dog keeps drinking from it daily?!?!😂. She just likes a little flavored water
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