Firefighters warn of Christmas tree and home heating dangers

HAMPTON, Va. - Firefighters across Hampton Roads are reminding folks to be safe when it comes to home fire safety this week.

There have been several fires across the region this month that have been attributed to home heating issues like space heaters.

Hampton firefighters say a fire on Fox Grove Drive early Monday morning originated in a live Christmas tree.

They offer the following tips to avoid a similar situation in your home:

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. “Three feet from the heat”
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Be sure to water the tree daily.
  • Use lights that UL tested and listed. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use make sure you are using the correct ones.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving your home or going to bed.

Heating Equipment Safety Tips (from the National Fire Protection Association)

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.

  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

  • Test smoke alarms monthly