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Fire Department offers tree trimming safety tips

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer. The Eglin Fire
and Emergencies Flight along with the National Fire Protection Association offer some facts and tips to make Christmas time a safe and happy time for everyone.

The NFPA statistics:
Between 2003- 2007 U. S. Fire Departments responded to an average of 250 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 14 deaths, 26 injuries, and $13.8 million in direct property damage annually.

Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 18 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death. The leading type of equipment involved in the ignition of Christmas trees are normally lights, cords or plugs.

The Eglin Fire and Emergency Services provide the following do's and don'ts for Christmas Trees and Decorations at work:

Natural cut Christmas trees are not permitted in assembly, educational, health care, detention, correctional, mercantile, billeting or dormitory occupancies. With the following exception: Trees located in areas protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system.

Artificial Christmas trees shall be labeled or otherwise identified or certified by the manufacturer as being "flame retardant" or "flame resistant."

No Christmas trees or decorations shall be allowed to obstruct corridors, exit ways or other means of egress.

Only listed electrical lights and wiring for the appropriate application shall be used on Christmas trees and similar decorations.

Electrical lights are prohibited on metal artificial trees. Natural cut Christmas trees shall not be located near heating events or other fixed portable heating devices that could cause the tree to dry out prematurely or to be ignited.

In occupancies where natural trees are permitted, the bottom end of the trunk shall be cut off at an angle at least one to two inches above the end to help the tree absorb water. The tree shall be placed in a suitable stand with adequate water. The water level shall be checked and maintained on a daily basis.

Christmas trees shall be fresh with no signs of dying. Trees found to be dry are highly flammable and are to be removed from the facility. Inside lighted displays and tree lights must be turned off when building is unoccupied.

Larger Christmas tree lights should also have some type of reflector rather than a bare bulb and all lights should be listed by a testing \laboratory.

(When buying Christmas lights we suggest using lights that have the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listed symbol on the purchasing tag)
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Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use tree lights. Any string of lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used.

Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to sleep.

Never use lit candles to decorate a tree and place them well away from tree branches.

Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.

Children are fascinated with Christmas trees. Keep a watchful eye on them around the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights.

Store matches lighters up high, out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.

Make sure the tree is at least three feet (one meter) away from any heat source and try to position it near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances. Do not place the tree where it may block exits.

Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in a house, garage or placed against the house.

Please take the time to ensure your home is fire safe during Christmas time.

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