Media contact: Keith Paul
Regional Communications Director
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What: Christmas tree fire safety tips & fire hazard demonstration
When: Thursday, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m.
Where: Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Training Center, 633 N. Mojave Rd.
LAS VEGAS (Dec. 5, 2022) — The Red Cross of Southern Nevada is partnering with Las Vegas Fire & Rescue on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m., to demonstrate the potential dangers accompanying Christmas trees and holiday decorations and provide fire safety advice to help prevent holiday disasters.
At Thursday’s event, firefighters will show how easily a dry Christmas tree goes up in flames and how a properly maintained tree resists the flames. “Each year there are devastating home fires in Las Vegas during the holidays,” said Las Vegas Fire Chief Fernando Gray. “Our hope is that this demonstration will encourage people to check their decorations and help prevent a fire."
Nearly one-third of all fires involving Christmas trees occur in January when real trees have become dried out and are easily ignited, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. “Always remember that a dry tree is a dangerous tree,” Gray said. “The tree can burn in less than a minute, spreading to the room and then the rest of the home. Watering your Christmas tree -- and unplugging holiday lights prior to going to sleep – are just two of the simple ways to make sure you enjoy the holidays safely.”
Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 160 home fires that start with Christmas trees, and nearly 800 home fires are started by holiday lights and decorations, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
“We know that our Las Vegas firefighters are ready to respond when called, and so is the Red Cross,” said Rachel Flanigan, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Southern Nevada Chapter. “But by teaching residents how to better manage real Christmas trees and other holiday decorations, we hope no one will need to make that call.”
10 Christmas tree fire safety tips
- Choose a healthy tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Before placing a tree in its stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk; this can help the tree to draw up water. If the cut surface is allowed to dry, it will reduce the water uptake to the tree.
- Always keep the tree well-watered.
- Check the water level in the stand daily.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source (e.g., space heaters, candles, fireplaces, heat vents, or lights).
- Make sure the tree does not block an exit.
- Only use decorative lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Make sure light bulbs, strings, and connections are not broken or damaged.
- Always turn off tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
So far this year, the Red Cross of Southern Nevada staff and volunteers have responded to more than 250 home fires and assisted more than 1,000 people in need, Flanigan reported. “Home fires, the nation’s most frequent disaster, account for most of the more than 60,000 emergencies the Red Cross responds to annually,” she said.
Home Fire Campaign saves lives
Installing smoke alarms and providing fire prevention information is a critical part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. Since launching in October 2014, the effort has saved some 1,414 lives nationwide by helping families create escape plans, installing free smoke alarms, and providing education about fire safety. Visit redcross.org/homefires for more information.
There’s help available
If you can’t afford to buy smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross of Southern Nevada may be able to help. Any resident interested in fire prevention assistance can visit SoundTheAlarm.org/Nevada to schedule an appointment for a free smoke alarm installation. During the 20-minute home visit, Red Cross volunteers will also share information on home fires, how to prevent them, what to do if a fire starts, and how to create an escape plan.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members, and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.