Christmas tree fire nightmare — NJ experts reveal worst-case scenario
🎄 Your home is likely buzzing with electricity for the holiday season
🎄 There's not much time to escape when sparks fly
🎄 Follow some simple tips in order to maximize safety
Likely more than any other time of year, your home may be a simmering fire hazard right now, all decked out for the holidays.
Have you taken any precautions to ensure you're not the one making the next 911 call?
"First responders are going to get to you in anywhere between four and 10 minutes," said David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board.
And in that time, after just one spark, much of your home can be destroyed.
Kurasz and other fire prevention experts are advising New Jersey families to follow some simple tips in order to stay safe this holiday season. NJFSAB recently hosted a demonstration in Freehold to show how quickly things can go south during a Christmas tree fire — particularly in homes that are not equipped with sprinkler heads.
"Wet dries out. Burned doesn't unburn," Kurasz said. "Do not try to fight this fire. You need to get out and call 911 immediately, and let the professionals get there."
Tips to help prevent home fires this holiday season
🔴 Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that don't fall off when touched.
🔴 Water your tree daily — you can use ice cubes to avoid spilling water.
🔴 Keep the tree and other decorations at least three feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, light, or vent.
🔴 Use lights appropriately; some are only for indoor or outdoor use.
🔴 Check that the lights have been laboratory tested (marked with UL, for example).
🔴 Check the manufacturer's guidelines for the maximum number of strands of lights that you can connect.
🔴 Use clips, not nails, to hang lights, in order to reduce cord damage.
🔴 Do not overload electrical outlets/extension cords.
State Fire Marshal Rich Mikutsky said residents want to make sure they have working smoke detectors within their home. During the tree fire demonstration, smoke detectors started beeping within 10 seconds of flames becoming visible.
Families can maximize safety by planning a way out in the event of a fire, Mikutsky said. And don't block exits with a tree or other decorations.
"You want to do an exit drill in the home," Mikutsky said. "You want to have a meeting place that, once you're all outside, you're all going to congregate at."
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