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Contact:
Kenton Brine, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (206) 624-3330/(800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
karl.newman@nwinsurance.org
sandi.henke@nwinsurance.org
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Don't let your holidays go up in flames
Neglected Christmas trees can increase risk of fire

SEATTLE – The Christmas tree is a beloved tradition that adds beauty and cheer to many households during the holidays. But unless cared for properly, a dried-out tree in your home can go from beautiful to hazardous in moments, putting your family and your home at risk.

Christmas tree fires may not be common, but are likely to be more serious than other fire risks when they do occur.  Between 2009- 2013, fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires per year that started with Christmas trees, resulting in an average of seven deaths, 19 injuries and $17.5 million in property damage annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

A standard Homeowners Policy covers damage caused by fire, but taking safety measures with your Christmas tree will help reduce the risk of fire so you and your family can enjoy the holiday season.

The NW Insurance Council and NFPA offer the following insurance and safety tips for a fire-free holiday:

Tree/Fire Safety Tips:

  • Check your smoke alarms to make sure they are working properly.
  • Select a fresh tree with green, pliant needles. If the needles are brittle or fall off when touched that means the tree is too dry.
  • If your tree is not “cut to order” at the time you buy it, cut two inches from the base of the trunk before placing the tree in the tree stand. Add water to the tree stand and water your tree daily to prevent it from drying out.
  • Place the tree at least three feet away from any heat sources, such as fireplaces, heat vents and lamps or exposed light bulbs.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • If you have an artificial tree be sure it’s identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
  • Use tree lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory, and make sure you know if they are for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets. One of every three Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
  • Replace any string of lights that have worn cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed
  • Responsibly dispose of your tree after the holidays. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home, garage, or placed directly outside the home (such as leaning against a wall of your home or garage). Check with your local community to find a recycling program.

Insurance tips:

  • Contact a representative from your insurance company or your insurance agent to be sure you have the right coverage to meet your needs.  Make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance, especially if you’ve recently remodeled or built new additions to your home.
  • Maintain a complete home inventory. Keep copies of contracts and receipts of your personal possessions in a safe place outside of your home. Take pictures or video of your belongings with your smartphone.  Free, downloadable Home Inventory Software is available on the Insurance Information Institute’s website.

For more informationcontact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education and public policy organization funded by member insurance companies in Washington, Oregon & Idaho.

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