Why you should water your Christmas tree

Nothing can illustrate the impact of keeping a Christmas tree well watered quite like this clip from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

If you’re in any fire related circles (and if you’ve made it to this page you are now; Welcome!), I’d hazard a guess that every December you either see the above clip or ones similar to it start to do the rounds online. There is a very good reason for this. Christmas trees pose a significant fire safety risk within the home, and one that is largely unfamiliar to most families. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 200 home fires each year start with a Christmas tree largely due to electrical faults or heat sources located in proximity to trees. [1]

Tip sheetWith all the festivities and planning that occurs around this time of year, its not surprising that Christmas tree fire safety isn’t the first thing on everybody’s mind. However, as you can see in the clip above, something as simple as watering the tree daily can have a dramatic influence on preventing an accident from becoming a tragedy.

The NFPA have put together a safety tip sheet which is linked HERE. I couldn’t recommend more strongly that if you use a real Christmas tree, please print out this tip sheet and keep it with your decorations for use year after year. [1]

For a number of years, the University of Maryland (an IMFSE Partner), with collaboration from NIST, invites the fire safety community to predict the burning behaviour of a chosen Christmas tree. This year eight IMFSE students took a quick break from their exam preparations and threw their hat into the ring by predicting/designing a fire growth curve for this Christmas tree. It was a great opportunity to apply some fire science reasoning to a different sort of problem. Congratulations to the University of Queensland (also an IMFSE Partner), who achieved both the single highest score and the best team average score.

Well done also to my fellow IMFSE students who are in the midst of finishing either their first or last set of exams within the program.

Have a safe and happy holiday period, and please don’t forget to water your tree.

[1]         National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 2018. Christmas Tree Safety. [pdf] Available at: <https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/ChristmasTreeSafetyTips.pdf&gt; [Accessed 19 December 2018]



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