O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! Let’s Learn How to Keep You from Burning!

Christmas. Glowing fireplace, hearth, tree. Red stockings. Gifts and decorations.

Around the area, families are busy decorating their homes for Christmas, but some decorations come with potential danger. Here are some tips from your Roanoke heating experts at Southern Trust Home Services on how to keep your home safe for the holidays.


Most people keep their decorations in storage for a year and then reuse lights, extension cords and power strips that they’ve used year after year. Electrical fires and unattended candles are the cause of most holiday fires. A lot of attention is paid to local newscasts showing spectacular and catastrophic Christmas tree fires, but those are not as common as is popularly thought. A dried-out real Christmas tree will burn, but so will an artificial tree. The rules for having a safe holiday are the same whether you display a fresh-cut tree or an artificial tree.


More than one in four Christmas tree fires is causes by an electrical problem, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Inspect your extension cords and light strings when you pull them out of the box. Discard any that look worn, frayed or with loose bulb connections or damage to the insulation. Both indoor and outdoor Christmas lights must be certified by a testing laboratory such as UL or ETL. Lights are labeled for indoor or outdoor use and those for outdoor use must be plugged into a GFCI-protected receptacle. Don’t overload the circuits.


Mini-lights or LEDs put out less heat than larger bulbs and won’t dry out a real tree as quickly. Turn off the lights at night and whenever you’re leaving the house.


If you have a real tree, it’s always best if you cut it yourself at a Christmas tree farm. Regardless, look for a fresh-cut tree with bright green needles that don’t fall off when you run your hand over the branches. Cut 1- to 2-inches off the bottom of the trunk and place the tree in water. Put the tree in a tree stand that can hold plenty of water. Be sure to add water daily.


Keep any tree, real or artificial, away from heat sources, including radiators, registers, fireplaces and direct sunlight. Don’t put the tree in a spot that will block an exit. Keep candles away from the tree and don’t ever decorate a tree with real lit candles. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.


A fresh, well-watered tree will not catch fire readily, but a dried-out tree will. When the needles start falling off, it’s time to get the tree out of the house. Find a recycling program. Don’t put the tree in your garage or lean it against the outside of your house. When you put your tree on the curb, it’s a good time to bring in your outdoor decorations too.


Family is all-important to us at Southern Trust Home Services and we want to keep your family safe too. We’re here to serve your plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical needs every day of the year. Give us a call at (540) 343-4348.

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