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Have Yourself a Merry (Safe) Little Christmas | Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel, LLP

Decorating homes and businesses with Christmas trees and lights is one of America’s most treasured holiday pastimes. Unfortunately, while many traditional decorations can increase your holiday cheer, they can also increase your chances of fire.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that firefighters respond to an average of about 390 Christmas decoration related structure fires a year. These fires result in property damage, injuries, and even death.

The worst part? Each one of these holiday tragedies could have been prevented.

Redding Fire Department Division Chief Michael Bachmeyer commented that holiday fires most commonly result from instances when families overload circuits by placing too many light strands on a single circuit.

Bachmeyer also stated that holiday lights have a tendency to degrade after every year of use and that some families will continue to use lights that have bent or frayed wires. These bent or frayed wires can short circuit and cause sparks. If there is any doubt about the electrical integrity of lighting wires that you use this season, please throw them out.

At Reiner & Slaughter, we want you and your family to be as safe as possible this holiday season. Here are some tips from the NFPA to help you make the right choices for your home. At Reiner & Slaughter, we want you and your family to be as safe as possible this holiday season. Here are some tips from the NFPA to help you make the right choices for your home.

  1. When buying a natural tree, pick one that has fresh, green needles which do not fall off when touched or shaken. The needles should not be easy to pull off, and should bend, not break when bent between fingers. Check that the butt of the tree trunk is still sticky with resin; the trunks and branches should have a greenish cast. If you purchase an artificial tree, ensure that the tree has been treated with flame retardant.
  2. Choose the location for your Christmas tree carefully. Don’t not place your tree near any source of heat like candles, heat vents, fireplaces or radiators. Do not place your tree in a place that blocks an exit.
  3. Keep natural trees moist and fresh by cutting a couple of inches from the base of the trunk before putting it in the stand and adding water daily. Dispose of the tree properly as soon as it starts to drop needles.
  4. Only use Christmas lights that have a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification sticker. Follow light strand specifications for indoor/outdoor use. Do not connect more than three strands together. A single circuit should not be connected to any more than fifty screw-in bulbs. Replace any strings of lights with loose bulb connections or worn out cords.
  5. Never use lit candles for Christmas tree decorations. Before leaving the house or going to bed, always check that all Christmas lights have been turned off and unplugged.
    A safe Christmas tree will be the centerpiece for your family’s memories for years to come. Happy holidays.


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Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel is a nationally recognized law firm located in Redding, California. The firm has achieved a peer-reviewed listing as Pre-Eminent Law Firm by Martindale-Hubbell. Two of our lawyers have been recognized in Northern California Super Lawyers. Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel has won over 98 percent of the cases that have gone to trial.

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