Mississippi fire-related fatalities up by nearly 30% in 2021. Officials warn about fire hazards of Christmas trees.

Published 3:21 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2021

When it comes to fire fatalities, 2021 is likely to be a deadlier year than 2020 in the state of Mississippi.

So far, 30 more people have died from fire-related causes this year than last year. As the year draws to a close, 92 people have died in fire-related incidents compared to 61 people in mid-December 2020.

That is why state fire officials are warning state residents about the importance of practicing fire safety when it comes to Christmas trees.

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Many people have live trees for Christmas that need daily watering to prevent the trees from dying out and catching fire.

Almost one-third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Though these fires are not common, they are more likely to be serious. A heat source too close to the tree causes more than one of every five Christmas tree fires.

To prevent more fire deaths this year, the Mississippi State Fire Academy recommends several fire safety measures:

• Use holiday decorations made with flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.

• Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and replace damaged items before plugging lights in.

• Use lights approved by Underwriter’s Laboratories.

• Do not overload extension cords.

• Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.

• Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.

• Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and make sure any lit candles in the room are placed away from tree branches.

• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

• Cut at least two inches off the bottom of the tree trunk before placing it in a stand.

• Live trees can “drink” one gallon of water of water daily.

• Check water at least twice daily.

• Make sure the tree is at least six feet away from any heat source.

• Take the tree down when it becomes dry.

• Recycle it, use it as a fish shelter in a farm pond or put it out with the trash.

• Do not burn a tree in the fireplace. Heat may explode the wood and set the room on fire.

This video shows you how fast a tree can catch on fire in a controlled burn administered on campus.