FIRE SAFETY Advice You CAN’T Overlook During the Holidays!


Tom Gulliver

My Dad is my hero.  Always has been and always will be.

So would you believe me if I said he’s your hero too?  Well, at least in theory!  My Dad, Tom Gulliver, has been a local firefighter for over 20 years.  It is a profession that demands bravery, courage and self-sacrifice for strangers in need; no questions asked.

Quite expectedly, I find myself hypersensitive of fire safety and this time of year is no exception.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  The Holiday Season brings with it an abundance of house fires, most of which are preventable.  And much like driving, we unintentionally start “going through the motions” without a healthy reminder of safety awareness.

Christmas trees are chopped and houses are now shimmering with lights so what better time, or way, than to share these fire safety reminders with you in an interview with my Dad himself!

Kelley Morrison:  Why are live Christmas trees so dangerous and what advice do you have to prevent these fires?

Tom Gulliver:  Live Christmas trees.  Kind of a contradiction to call them “live” when in fact they are actually dead or certainly in the process of dying.  Then we wrap this dead or dying piece of wood (fuel) in electrical wire and display it inside our house (which is also flammable) for upwards of a month.  YIKES!  Sounds dangerous and it is!  It is critical to slow the “drying out process” of your tree by keeping it adequately hydrated.  Adding sugar or karo syrup to the water have been identified as effective ingredients for Christmas tree hydration.  If you take a tree branch in your hand, squeeze it and a large bunch of needles fall off, this is a sign that your tree is becoming increasingly flammable!

Additionally, it’s important to comply with the manufacturers’ recommendations regarding how many consecutive strands of lights to plug together; too many result in overheating the light cord.  Use a plug power strip with a circuit breaker.  Make certain that it has the “circuit breaker” feature, as not all of them do.

Also, carefully check your lights’ condition.  Old lights can show wear and tear from frequent use and expose bare wire from worn insulation.  This is VERY dangerous, as obviously this will provide the short/spark that may very well set your tree on fire. Trust me, you don’t want that to happen!

Watch this.

Kelley Morrison:  Are artificial trees dangerous too?

Tom Gulliver:  Absolutely!  While not “as” flammable as a live tree, it’s very important to remember that they are fire “resistant” not fire “proof”.  Use all the same precautions with an artificial tree as you would with a live tree – except watering them! 😉

Kelley Morrison:  What is another common cause for house fires during the Holidays?

Tom Gulliver:  Electrical outlets are used more heavily during the Holidays.  In turn, exposing a problem with your homes electrical wiring that went previously undetected.  Never overload your outlets.  Most standard household outlets are rated for 15 amps.  Total the amps of the lights & equipment you are plugging into one outlet.  If they exceed 15 amps, then find another outlet. “Overloading” is “overheating”.  Also, pay attention to circuit breakers that trip.  They are trying to tell you that something is wrong.  Don’t ignore them.

Additional KEY tips!

  • Clean your chimneys and OPEN THE FLUE DAMPER!  Have a gas fireplace?  CHECK FOR LEAKS!
  • Check those smoke detectors!  They save lives!
  • Turn all Christmas lights off while sleeping or leaving the house!

I hope these fire safety tips have been helpful reminders to ensure a safe a happy Holiday season!



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