Holiday Safety

Holiday Fire Safety

  • Be sure that all of your smoke alarms are working properly and that they all have fresh batteries.
  • Do not allow Christmas trees or decorations to obstruct corridors, exit ways, or other means of egress.
  • Open flames such as from candles, lanterns, kerosene heaters, and gas-fired heaters should not be located on or near Christmas trees or other similar combustible materials.
  • Artificial Christmas trees should be labeled, or otherwise identified or certified, by the manufacturer as being "flame retardant" or "flame resistive."

Natural Cut Christmas Trees

  • Natural cut Christmas trees are not permitted in the following occupancies in Rhode Island (unless the building is protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system):
    • Assembly, educational, health care, residential board and care, detention and correctional, mercantile, hotel and dormitory.
  • Living trees in a balled condition with their roots protected by an earth ball are permitted in these occupancies, provided they are maintained in a fresh condition and are not allowed to become dry.
  • In occupancies where natural trees are permitted, the bottom end of the trunk must be cut off at an angle at least 1 in. to 2 in. above the end to help the tree absorb water. The tree must then be placed in a suitable stand with adequate water. The water level must be checked and maintained on a daily basis. The tree must be removed from the building immediately upon evidence of dryness.
  • Natural cut Christmas trees should not be located near heating vents or other fixed or portable heating devices that could cause the tree to dry out prematurely or to be ignited.
  • Christmas trees become extremely flammable when cut long in advance of use, and then brought indoors where heat and low humidity accelerate drying. To reduce the hazard, the tree should be kept indoors only as long as absolutely necessary. The water level should always be maintained above the cut.
  • Use a tree stand that will not allow the tree to tip over.
  • Shedding needles is a sign of dryness.

Electric Lights

  • Electrical lights are prohibited on metal artificial trees.
  • Only listed electrical lights and wiring should be used on Christmas trees and similar decorations. Discard any lighting or wiring which has cracked or frayed cords, or loose or damaged sockets.
  • Because incandescent lamps produce considerable heat, they inherently possess the hazard of heating and igniting combustible material in contact with them. Under normal conditions, with incandescent lamps in approved lamp-holders and fixtures where properly guarded, the heating hazard is negligible, but ignition of combustible material may result if lamps are surrounded by or laid on such combustible material. Remember that paper can ignite at approximately 450ºF.
  • The older style conventional Christmas tree lamps of U.S. manufacture have approximate average bulb surface temperatures at the hottest spot of approximately 260ºF for the blue and green colors, and somewhat lower for the white, red, and yellow colors. The bulb temperatures may be further increased if the lamp is in other than a vertical, base-up position.
  • Never run extension cords under carpets, across doorways, or near heaters. Be sure not to pinch extension cords behind or under furniture. Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Unplug all lights before leaving your home or going to bed.


Fireplaces & Wood Stove Safety

  • Avoid burning highly combustible solid materials, such as a dried Christmas tree and wrappings. The high gas temperatures resulting may ignite creosote deposits, or cause damage to the masonry. The high rate of burning may cause the flames, heat, and smoke to billow out of the fireplace opening, possibly igniting nearby combustibles. Regardless of how flammable these materials are, burning them a little at a time obviously will cause no problem.