Suffolk County fire officials burned a Christmas tree Tuesday in Yaphank to show how fast carelessness can lead to tragedy during the holiday season.
“It’s not to scare people,” said Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services Commissioner Joseph Williams. “It’s just to remind residents about the potential dangers.”
The annual demonstration took place at the Suffolk County Fire Academy, where officials set fire to a decorated Christmas tree, set up in a simulated living room complete with presents, a couch and a television set.
Commissioner Williams said residents should make sure their tree is placed away from fireplaces and heaters. “The key is to make sure it’s watered,” he said. “Once the tree is dried out, you should remove it from the home.
Nearly 200 Christmas tree fires occur nationwide, resulting in about 20 deaths; Suffolk has about two Christmas tree fires per year with no reported fatalities, Commissioner Williams said.
“It’s a very safe item if you take care of it,” he said, adding that most Christmas tree fires occur in the home between the day after Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Other safety tips he offered included:
• Monitor water levels in the tree stand frequently.
• Make sure indoor lights are used only indoors and outdoor lights solely on the exterior of the home.
• Limit the number of light strings being powered by an outlet to no more than three.
• Unplug all decorative lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Make sure smoke detectors are in place.
• Conduct a home exit drill to make sure your family is practiced in escaping the home through alternate routes.