The Greater Long Beach Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) hosted a Christmas tree burning demonstration at the LBFD Training Center Wednesday morning to show the effects of improper tree care during the holiday season.
A makeshift living room was set up, complete with a decorated tree, wrapped presents, a sofa, an end table, shelves, framed pictures and other holiday decorations. After firefighter Steve Yamamoto placed a small flame under the tree, its branches were consumed by tremendous flames within 15 seconds, and the entire structure was burning shortly thereafter. The blaze was so massive and the heat so intense, members of the media were taking steps backwards with their camera equipment, but Yamamoto promptly extinguished the fire.
Nancy C. Kindelan, CEO of the Greater Long Beach Chapter of the American Red Cross, and Long Beach Fire Chief Alan Patalano discussed safety tips for having a tree in the home:
• Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
• Purchase flame-retardant metallic or artificial trees. If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
• Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
• Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
• Install a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
• Make sure all household appliances are installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.
• Use only sturdy tree stands designed to not tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.
• Keep anything that can catch on fire– pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains– away from your stove top.
• Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure that all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.