CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. (WVIR) - As we deck the halls and trim the tree, house fires are likely the last thing on your mind. However, they can happen and the Charlottesville Fire Department wants to remind people of some tips to make sure everyone has a safe holiday season.
Firefighters say not a lot of Christmas tree fires happen in Charlottesville and that's mainly because of their fire prevention tactics. They still need people to be aware of not just tree fires, but many other types of holiday fires.
"One-third of home decoration fires involve ignition from a candle source and one-fourth of Christmas tree fires have something to do with an electrical problem,” Fire Captain Joshua Pugh stated.
Between 2013 and 2017, the U.S. Fire Service responded to 160 Christmas tree fires, which is a low number compared to the 780 house fires. Besides electrical problems, officials remind people to water their tree daily and keep trees at least three feet away from heaters, fireplaces and other heating sources.
“If you’re using a natural tree, you want to buy a tree that’s not dried out already. You want to test it by pulling off one of the needles and making sure it doesn’t break when you bend it between your fingers,” Assistant Fire Marshal Jonathan Williams said.
A decorated tree isn't the only way a disaster can happen, another fire can stem from those delicious meals and treats.
"Overall the Christmas time does increase our call load, but the majority of the time it’s with cooking fires and as when any time of the year we advise people to keep your kids out of the kitchen and practice good fire safety,” Pugh said.
Firefighters also want people to keep their chimney in mind.
“You want to make sure that you have your chimney cleaned at least once a year or inspected by a certified chimney sweep to make sure you don't have what's called creosote, built up,” Williams said.
Firefighters also want to remind people how important it is to have a working smoke detector because that is the number one thing that saves lives. After that, make sure to call 911.