UPDATED 1:30 PM PT – Thursday, December 24, 2020
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re in emergency services, it’s certainly one of the busiest times.
In the days leading up to Christmas, fire departments and emergency services are preparing for the spike in calls that comes with every holiday– one that’s expected to be even more hectic this year due to the pandemic.
According to official reports, there has been an increased number of house fires in 2020. Officials suggest this is because people are spending more time at home due to lockdown orders.
Meanwhile, Christmas tree sales have skyrocketed for some vendors, which means a potential increase in these types of fires. Some tree vendors have reported a 200 percent increase in sales, which shows people are desperate for a break from the norm and are looking forward to the holiday.
“Retail sales of Christmas trees have been exceptional this year,” Scott Sanchez, owner of Mr. Jingle’s Christmas Trees, stated. “I think the communities are staying home and families are embracing, you know, what Christmas is all about.”
However, with this many trees in homes, the number of calls for tree fires are expected to increase. According to reports, fire departments respond to an average of 160 home fires sparked by Christmas trees each year.
Experts said it only takes 90 seconds for a whole room to be engulfed in flames. To avoid this, experts suggested a tree should only stay in a home for about two-weeks maximum. They also pointed out that no matter how fresh the tree was when it was purchased, it dries out no matter what.
Erika Benitez of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue emphasized how crucial it is to keep your Christmas tree well-watered at all times. A hydrated tree greatly reduces the chances of starting a Christmas tree blaze. It is also important to spray the tree down from top to bottom in addition to making sure the base pot always has water.
According to experts, a tree should be kept at least three feet away from any heat sources, like a radiator or fireplace.
“A lot of people want to have it set up all nice [and] pretty right by their window, right by their tv, always looking at it, but one thing they don’t notice is that air vent is right over that tree,” Christmas tree vendor Tyler Wilson said. “So you’re blasting hot air all the time, it’s going to dry out the tree a lot quicker.”
While they are not the most common, Christmas tree fires are more likely to be serious fires. Tree owners are always advised to check for damaged decorations, use lights approved for indoor use, and be sure to turn them off before bed or leaving the house.