Keep Your Christmas Fire Free - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/22/03

Keep Your Christmas Fire Free

The holidays are a happy time of the year; a time to enjoy family and friends, but often, the holidays turn tragic. "Every year at this time of year, the holiday season, it's supposed to be a festive time but every year we have fires that burn people's houses because of Christmas trees, faulty lights or candles they have left burning," says Lubbock Fire Department Lieutenant Mark Ethridge.

NewsChannel 11 wanted to bring this type of safety awareness to you, so Sutherlands donated a Christmas tree and we enlisted the help of Lieutenant Mark Ethridge and Firefighter Taylor Ratcliff from the Lubbock Fire Department. Ratcliff lights the tree with a small flame, the same amount of flame a candle may put out. Within seconds, sections of the tree begin to ignite. Within minutes, the entire tree is engulfed with flames.

Lieutenant Ethridge says, this sight is a common one during the holidays. "We've got a Christmas tree that has been burned but if you look as we move the needles, run the hands over the needles, we have very few that actually come off. This is really a pretty green tree and you see how it burns, so if you bought your tree sometime after Thanksgiving then the potential for that thing to really go up in a hurry is that much greater."

You can prevent a holiday fire such as this one, with some simple Safety Solutions.

First, make sure your tree is sturdy and set up in a secure location in your home. Lieutenant Ethridge says, "We don't want the kids or the pets or someone knocking the tree over. That's just another disaster waiting to happen."

Next, make sure you monitor the moisture level in the stand everyday. For example, a six to seven foot Christmas tree can drink up to two quarts of water a day. Next, check the lights.
"We just want to make sure you check those lights. Make sure there is no frayed insulation and keep the area around the tree as clear as possible," says Lieutenant Ethridge.

Don't use outdoor lights on an indoor tree and don't plug too many lights into one plug. That could overflow the circuits.

Finally, make sure you dispose of the tree properly. Ethridge says, "You don't want to burn your Christmas tree in the fireplace, you saw how it burns when the needles gets to a flame."

The easiest way to dispose of your tree safely is to recycle it. Starting December 26th, you can drop off your Christmas tree at any of the city's three recycling centers:

  • Southside Recycling Center 1631 84th,
  • Northside Recycling Center 208 Municipal Drive
  • Elmwood Recycling Center 2002 Elmwood

For more Christmas tree safety tips, ( click here ).

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