It would be pretty hard to find a Christmas tree worth $2 million. That’s a lot of gold tinsel and diamond-encrusted ornaments. But, as one Allstate customer found when an artificial Christmas tree caught fire in the family’s living room, a Christmas tree can cost you $2 million. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But the fire caused nearly $2.4 million in losses and serves as a sobering reminder that the holiday season – while full of joy – is also a risky time for home safety and security.
However, you can help secure your family’s safety and security this holiday season by understanding the risks and what you can do to mitigate them. Following this expert advice will help ensure run-of-the-mill holiday stress isn’t compounded by a major accident, headache or theft–particularly when it comes to Christmas tree safety.
- examine lights carefully
- read the labels of artificial trees
- avoid heat
- keep a real tree watered
- keep gifts away from outlets and candles
- overload electrical outlets
- leave the lights on
- leave candles lit
- keep the tree after it has dried out
- be without proper home insurance coverage
Before you install any holiday lights on your tree, examine them thoroughly and throw away any that are broken. Make sure wires aren't exposed, and that each string of lights isn't too old overall.
When buying an artificial tree, make sure to read the labels closely, and ensure the tree is marked as flame-resistant.
Be sure to keep your tree away from heat sources, such as radiators or fireplaces, and decorate trees with flame‐resistant materials.
Immediately after a tree is cut, it begins to dry out. Keeping the tree watered regularly will help preserve the green and keep it fresh–limiting it’s risk as a fire hazard.
Wrapped gifts with the bows and the wrapping paper can easily get too warm or be easily ignited by a spark or flame. If you want to keep the gifts under the tree, make sure they are away from outlets and any heat sources.
Avoid overloading electrical outlets and be sure that you’re using them appropriately, as lights and extension cords specified for outdoor use should only be used outside.
When you leave the house, are away from the tree for an extended period of time, or go to bed–turn the Christmas lights off. Not only will you be saving some electricity, it will also minimize the risk of something going wrong while you’re away and unable to immediately address an emergency.
The same goes for candles: checking that all candles are extinguished should become part of your normal routine before going to bed each night, and be sure to never light candles too close to your Christmas tree.
You can see that the tree has reached its final days when its needles fall off at the slightest touch, or if the outer needles and branches are brown and dry. It’s hard to pack up the Christmas cheer and throw out the tree, but as soon as you can after the 25th, it’s best to dispose of it to eliminate any unnecessary fire hazards.
All homeowners should have home insurance regardless if they put a Christmas tree in their house or not. But the greater the risk, the greater the need is for risk management, and that's where the protection of home insurance brings peace of mind year-round. Make sure your home insurance coverage is adequate in case these in-home holiday traditions erupt in flames.
The holidays should provide an opportunity for us to relax and spend time with our loved ones, but we still need to keep an eye on all these unique decorations. The season brings a tree inside (that’s dying), putting electrical lights on it, and lighting a lot of candles. Such a combination can cause serious–even fatal–damage. Amid all the traveling, shopping, cooking and decorating, follow this advice and take the necessary steps to ensure a safe and secure holiday season. Now, let’s get out there and spread some [hazard-free] holiday cheer!