250 Christmas tree fires kill 14 each year

- One of every 18 reported U.S. home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, with about half caused by electrical problems, U.S.

fire prevention experts say.

Officials at the National Fire Prevention Association say from 2003-2007, an average of 250 Christmas tree fires annually caused 14 deaths and almost $14 million in direct property damage.

Electrical problems were factors in 45 percent of home Christmas tree structure fires. A heat source was too close to the Christmas tree in 26 percent of the fires, while 23 percent of home Christmas tree fires involved decorative lights, and candles started 14 percent of home Christmas tree structure fires.

To prevent holiday fires the American Industrial Hygiene Association advises to:

• Check all tree lights, even if they're new, for frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections before hanging them on your tree.

• Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.

• Keep lit candles away from windows, doors, cut greenery or any combustibles. Never leave children or pets unattended in a room with lit candles.

• Before using lights outdoors, check that they are certified for outdoor use. Use hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks, to hold lights.

• Hang stockings with care and never in front of a lit fireplace.


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