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Safety Facts Featured City: Seattle

by Cassie May 5, 2015

Seattle Home Security from My Alarm Center

Seattle: the Emerald City, known for its waterfront location, sky-high Space Needle, and sweet-scented brews of both the caffeinated and hops varieties. This pedestrian haven of the Northwest is the original home to Boeing, Microsoft and, of course, Starbucks. But Seattle is more than the sum of its accolades: it is a city of arts, culture, recreation – with a somewhat magical, usually casual vibe, that invites one to grab a to-go cup, take a breath of salt air, and step out to see it all.

One of Seattle’s big draws, for tourists and residents alike, is its status as one of the nation’s safest cities. In 2014, Seattle was ranked as the safest pedestrian city in the U.S. (Liberty Mutual Insurance Pedestrian Safety Index). What’s more, it consistently ranks in the top 10 safest cities for families with young children, and as the tenth-safest large metropolitan area, according to a study by Farmers Insurance Group, Most Secure U.S. Places to Live.

But the city’s top safety ratings aren’t a product of luck; they’re the result of a lot of hard work. Seattleites take pride in their city, and have enacted a number of community programs to engage youth, encourage safety, and help keep their streets and citizens secure and healthy. Here’s a look at some of those initiatives:

  • Seattle’s “Safest Route to School” program, worked to create 500+ new crosswalks, install more school zone speed-recording cameras, and improve walking routes for the city’s youngest residents.
  • Vision Zero and the “Be Super Safe” program, strives to educate drivers, reduce dangerous driving, and provide safer, more pedestrian-friendly streets.
  •  The Seattle Police Department sponsors several crime prevention programs, including the community-accessible Crime Prevention Coordinators, Block Watch and the annual Night Out Against Crime.
  • The city also believes in taking care of its youth through a variety of engaging outreach programs, among them YouthCare, designed to help homeless adolescents get off the streets, Teen Feed, PSKS (Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets), and the Seattle Youth Employment Program.

If Seattle’s outreach and safety programs have your feet tapping to explore the city and its surrounds, Seattle Magazine makes it even easier with its handy list of Seattle’s 15 safest neighborhoods. Dubbed “the happy 15,” the list sweeps through the alphabet from Ballard and Burien to Wallingford and West Seattle, with stops at Capital Hill, Georgetown, Ravenna and Queen Anne (among others), along the way.

Without a doubt, Seattle is perfect for afternoon strolls, café-hopping, exploring the arts and urban culture with outright fun, whether you’re going alone or bringing along the whole family. And with its strong reputation for safety, this walker-friendly city is an excellent, low-anxiety choice for your next urban vacation or relocation. To learn more about My Alarm Center’s home security services in Seattle just click here.

5 Things to Do When You Turn the Clock Ahead

by Tammy March 5, 2015


At 2 a.m. on March 8, 2015, we will turn our clocks ahead one hour marking the beginning of Daylight Saving Time

Although most clocks will automatically make the transition (as opposed to back in the day when we had to manually turn the clocks), this time of the year can serve as a reminder to check on some important things – and no, not just checking on those smoke and CO2 detectors.

So, here are a few things you can think about doing when you wake up and realize you lost an hour of your day (but, cheer up because you gained more daylight as we inch toward the lazy, hazy, longer days of summer!).

  1. Check on your pets. As the temperatures change and the seasons turn, it is important to think about the wellbeing of your pets. Do you need to get some heartworm pills or flea and tick medicine? Is your pet up-to-date on shots? Consider taking your pet for his/her biannual check up and get anything you may need for the coming months.
  2. Check on your finances. While you should always keep an eye on your finances and understand the full scope of your financial situation, now that you are two months into the year and almost at the close of the first quarter, it’s time for a quick check. Now is a good time to evaluate and see if your spending and savings are on-point with what you anticipated when the year began.
  3. Set goals. Maybe you set a New Year’s resolution or two and maybe you’re still on track. But, if you’re like the 83 percent who have abandoned those resolutions already, consider getting back on track. Check in with what you set out to do and figure out if it’s still feasible and then adjust. If you didn’t set any resolutions, consider setting a measurable goal now and create a plan to reach that goal. If you want to lose that weight for swimsuit season, then get on it now.
  4. Clean out your refrigerator. Although this is something you should do on a regular basis, you may not get around to it as frequently. At least twice a year, check all the expiration dates and safety of the food in your fridge and go ahead and ditch what needs to be eliminated.
  5. Check your home for safety. You may be considering a full-on clean out as spring-cleaning approaches, but there is no time better than now to do a walkthrough and walk around to check inside and outside of your home for anything that seems “off.” If you find anything, write it down and take care of it yourself, or hire a professional, as soon as possible.

Even though you may have lost an hour, you can still be productive and use this time of the year to your advantage and do these five easy things.

25 Home Security Stats You Need To Know

by Cassie March 2, 2015


If protecting your home and the loved ones inside are top priorities, it may be beneficial to know about the potential dangers that are lurking. By being aware, you can make informed decisions and be able to protect the people and things that matter to you most.


Here are some important home security statistics that you need to know:



1. 81 percent of intrusions occur through the first floor. (source: My Alarm Center)

2. In 2013, there were an estimated 8,632,512 property crime offenses in the nation. (source: FBI)

3. 34 percent of intruders enter through the front door, while 22 percent enter through a back door. 12 percent of burglars enter through an unlocked entrance. (source: My Alarm Center)

4. Property crimes in 2013 resulted in losses estimated at $16.6 billion. (source: FBI)

5. 9 out of 10 burglars avoid homes with alarm systems and said if they did encounter an alarm, they would not attack the home. (source: Yahoo!)



6. About 17.23 million wireless embedded smart home monitoring devices, ranging from contact and motion sensors to smart thermostats and smart plugs, sold in 2013, nearly twice as many as the previous year. (source:

7. By 2016, the home automation market is estimated to grow to $36 million. (source: My Alarm Center)

8. Estimates from research firm Gartner predict that an average home could remotely connect up to 500 things in your home. (source: CNBC)

10. 12 million home automations systems are expected to be installed by 2016. (source: My Alarm Center)



11. In 2013, there were 487,500 structure fires, causing 2,855 civilian deaths, 14,075 civilian injuries, and $9.5 billion in property damage. (source: NFPA)

12. One home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds. (source: NFPA)

13. Each household has a one in four chance of having a home fire large enough to be reported to a fire department during an average lifetime. (source: NFPA)

14. Cooking is responsible for almost half of household fires. (source: USFA)

15. The majority (62 percent) of home fire deaths resulted from fire in homes with no fire alarm systems or non-working fire alarms. (source: My Alarm Center)



16. 70 percent of failures are due to water tanks bursting or leaking. (source: My Alarm Center)

17. Water heater failures cost an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible was paid. (source: Disaster Safety)

18. Up to 93 percent of the cost of water damage could have been prevented or minimized if an automatic water leak detection and shut-off system had been present in the homes. (source: Leak Defense System)

19. The average cost for repairing flood damage is $15,000. (source: My Alarm Center)

20. The age at which a water heater tank failed due to leaking or bursting was available for 32% of the claims. Water heaters up to 20 years old accounted for 95 percent of these claims. (source: Disaster Safety)



21. Poor nutrition and malnutrition occur in 15 to 50 percent of the elderly population. (source: Spark People)

22. Over one in every eight, or 13.3 percent of the population is an older American. (source: AOA)

23. Around 28 percent or 11.8 million elderly live at home alone. (source: AOA)

24. One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year. (source: CDC)

25. The number of people aged 65 and older is projected to reach 83.7 million by 2050, compared with 43.1 million in 2012. (source: Health Day)

Share these stats with those you love – because together, we are safer.

If you want more information, check our our handy infographics that feature Fire, Flood and Home Automation facts and stats.

9 Tips For Keeping Your Community Safe

by Cassie February 16, 2015


According to the FBI, crime rates in the US have decreased in the past two decades. In fact, in the first half of 2014, burglary offenses dropped 14 percent, motor vehicle thefts decreased by 5.7 percent, and there was a 5.6 percent drop in larceny-theft. While those numbers are promising, we, as community members, need to work to maintain these lower crime rates.

So what can we do?

We can work toward a safer community and consider getting more involved in crime prevention. As a matter of fact, throughout the 90’s, there was an average of a 30 percent decrease in burglaries nationwide due to communities getting more involved in crime prevention.

So, let’s keep is up. Here are nine ways you can get involved in your community to keep it safe.

  1. Join the town watch (or start one) – Join in a town watch program (or get the community involved in one). Knowing the neighborhood’s trouble spots and keeping streets and homes well-lit can deter any possible burglaries. When criminals see a well-marked neighborhood with town watch signs, it makes them think twice before committing a crime. Town watch programs have helped communities experience a 16 and 26 percent reduction in crime compared to areas not involved in a town watch.
  2. Get to know your neighbors – Whether you are going on vacation or heading to work, knowing your neighbors provides and extra set of eyes on your house (and maybe an extra set of keys for emergencies). People care about those they know, so getting to know your neighbors and building relationships provides that layer of community and a sense of wanting to watch out for each other.
  3. Educate kids about bullying – Educate kids on a safe way to help others. Encourage confidence in resolving problems peacefully and not through violence. Make it clear that you expect kids to take action if they see someone being hurt, or if they are hurt themselves. By leading by example, you can teach empathy rather than violence.
  4. Initiate a buddy system – The buddy system is not just a system for kids. It’s less likely a criminal will approach two people instead of one vulnerable person. A buddy can be more than just a walking partner. Your buddy can also make sure that you have everything you need to be safe (from a trip to just that walk down the street). And, of course, a buddy can always be there to call for help in those times of emergency.
  5. Share tips about security systems – If you, or someone you know, decides to install a security a system, be sure that information gets out into the neighborhood. There are a few reasons why this is beneficial. First, knowing that a particular community is equipped with alarm systems will help build a “secure” reputation for your community and hopefully thwart potential criminals from considering that community a target. Second, if a security system has proved to be beneficial for someone in the community, other members might want to look into a similar system and can do a price/capability comparison. Remember, there is strength in numbers so the greater number of community members equipped with security systems, the more secure the entire community will be in the end.
  6. Get involved in local organizations – By getting involved, neighbors become better acquainted and make the connections necessary to keep the community safe. The Bureau of Justice Assistance offers ways your community can get involved and pair with local businesses and organizations to create a safer community.
  7. Create a favorable rapport with local police enforcement – Involve your local law enforcement to get involved in community events. Get to know who they are and respect what they do. By creating a relationship with your local law enforcement, you can communicate community concerns more effectively and become an extension of their force.
  8. Create a Cleaner Neighborhood – Burglars are attracted to unkempt neighborhoods. A community with litter, abandoned cars, and run-down buildings tells burglars that you don’t care about where you live or about your neighbors. Do what you can to control the environment in which you live by starting at home and ensuring your space is clean and clutter-free. To continue the commitment, work to initiate a “clean-up day” and invite your neighbors to join you in keeping your community clean and safe.
  9. Stay current with crime trends  – Knowing what’s happening in your neighborhood and those around you can help you understand the possible warning signs of impending crime. Know what’s happening and be ready to report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement. Staying up-to-date with the news and crime trends can help your community stay proactive and involved, and out of those dreadful headlines (unless of course it’s to celebrate your awesome clean-up day or community events!).

By focusing on a safer community, you can work toward protecting you, your family, and those around you from falling victim to crimes that could leave your community devastated. By getting more involved or following any other tips mentioned above, you can help lead the way in creating a safer community for everyone.


See Something Suspicious? Then Say Something About It!

by Amy January 22, 2015


Here’s a neat story of how neighbors helping neighbors resulted in the arrest of a suspected criminal by the Lower Merion Pennsylvania Police Department.

Police were contacted by a man who noticed suspicious activity on his neighbor’s property. When police arrived a few minutes later, they encountered a 19 year old man from Philadelphia.

The man claimed to be a roofer and told police there was a job he had to work on the street. He said he was simply looking for the home where he was to work. The guy even had a ladder sticking out of his car to make it seem like he was a roofer.

However, police found something else in the guy’s car that aroused their suspicions. The guy had a bike and other tools in the trunk of his car.

The police talked to the neighbor who reported the activity and the neighbor confirmed that this was indeed the man he had seen. The police then contacted the homeowner who identified the ladder, bicycle and tools as being his property that had been in his garage.

Police then arrested the man and found marijuana in his car. The man was charged with burglary, criminal trespassing, theft, possession of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to deliver.

We love this story as originally reported  by Mainline Media News because it illustrates the importance of neighbors helping neighbors. If you see something suspicious, then you should definitely report it to the authorities. After all, that’s what you’d want your neighbor to do to help you.

My Alarm Center urges you to become an active participant in a neighborhood watch program.  They are great, easy, and effective ways to improve the safety for you, your home and those of your neighbors.

How to Protect Your Home from Snow and Ice

by Derek January 20, 2015


This year winter came storming in across many cities across America, bringing with it record snowfalls and freezing temperatures.

Heavy snow and ice can accumulate around your home, causing heavy damage.

The most common damage to your home to be concerned about is interior water damage caused by ice dams.

Ice dams happen because the overhangs at the edge of your roof (called the eaves) tend to be colder than the rest of the roof. As water melts on the roof and reaches the eaves it may freeze there, creating a dam that prevents water from flowing off the roof. The water then backs up underneath the roof shingles and then seeps into your home. Icicles are a good indication that an ice dam is present.

Look for water stains or moisture in the attic or around exterior walls on the top floor of your home. Just because you have an ice dam does not mean you have water damage.

Another big problem snow and ice can create is structural damage to your home. If the snow and ice exceeds the weight bearing capacity of your roof, you could be in big trouble. Experts say flat roofs and older homes are most likely to have these problems.

Although it may differ by a variety of factors, a good rule of thumb is that if you have one foot of wet snow or ice, you should have it removed.

If you have a flat roof with safe access, you may want to simply shovel the roof. If you have a pitched roof, try using a roof rake to remove the snow. It’s not necessary to get all of it – focus on the four foot areas that are closest to the gutters.

There are professionals you can call that will remove roof snow for you. Look for home builders, landscape and roofing contractors and property management firms and always make sure you check references before hiring anyone to work on your home

Make sure you keep the areas around your downspouts clear. This allows your gutters to properly drain when the snow begins to melt. It also helps prevent flooding around the foundation of your home.

It goes without saying that it’s important to keep sideways and driveways clear of snow and ice. This protects the safety of your guests and your family.

Freezing of water pipes are a big concern in the winter. Water pipes that break can cause extensive damage to your home. Read this blog post about how to prevent your pipes from freezing for more information.

Home Heating Safety Tips

by Tammy January 8, 2015


Home fires occur in winter more than at any other time of the year. This is due in part to the use of alternative heating sources that many people use for cooking and heating to combat the winter cold.

You can heat your home safely while preventing winter fires. The following tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.

Check the Furnace

  • Have your furnace and related components checked by a licensed, qualified professional in your area once a year. Use the professional contractor locater provided by the Indoor Environment & Energy Efficiency Association to find a pro in your community.
  • Replace the air filters per the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Clean the floor vents. Make sure they are clear of debris, pet hair, dust, toys and food scraps.
  • Make sure outside vents are free from snow and ice.

Fire Place Safety

  • Have the chimney cleaned as necessary.
  • Keep the area around the fire place free of flammable materials (at least two feet is recommended).
  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Always close the firescreen when in use.
  • Never leave a fire unattended and extinguish fires before sleeping.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy for use in the event of an emergency.

Space Heater Safety

  • Turn them off when you leave the home or go to bed. Don’t leave them unattended.
  • Always use a UL certified space heater.
  • Keep flammable materials away from the heater, as the majority of space heater fires start with these materials.
  • Keep the heater on a level surface away from pets and areas where people may bump into it.
  • Avoid using space heaters in flooded areas or water.
  • Don’t use long extension cords that people can trip over.

Wood Stove Safety

  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Keep the area clear of combustible materials.
  • Place the stove on a non-combustible, fire-proof base.
  • Don’t connect a stove pipe to a fireplace chimney unless the fire place has been closed off. Never connect it to a chimney of an appliance burning other fuels.
  • Never start a fire with flammable fluids like gas.
  • Always supervise the fire…don’t leave it unattended.
  • Follow manufacturer’s recommendations concerning installation and operation.

Most Important about Heating Safety

The most important protective measure you can take is to make sure there are monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These detectors notify occupants of a smoke or poisonous gas hazard and monitored detectors will deploy help when needed. Contact your My Alarm Company representative or visit the Fire & Carbon Monoxide Detection page on the website for more information.

8 Tips to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

by Derek January 1, 2015


There are few worse experiences as a home owner than having your pipes freeze and break.

It’s very messy, very costly, and very inconvenient…even if you have insurance.

Water expands as it freezes, which can cause enormous pressure on metal or plastic household pipes.  This pressure can and often does cause household pipes to break. Pipes that are most likely to break are those exposed to severe cold, like pipes in unheated basements, garages, under cabinets, or those exposed to exterior walls with little insulation. Outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool lines and sprinkler lines are also vulnerable.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

There are actions you should take before the cold weather as preventative measures. These include:

  • Drain water from the water supply lines and swimming pool following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Make sure to drain outside hose bibs. Keep outside valves open so any remaining water in the pipe can expand without breaking the pipe.
  • Remove, drain and store hoses used outdoors.
  • Look for places around and in your home where water supply lines are located in unheated and under insulated areas.  Your crawl space, attic, basement and under cabinets are usually your most vulnerable areas. In these areas, consider adding insulation like a “pipe sleeve” or installing something like UL-listed heat tape. You could even use newspaper in a temporary situation to help keep pipes from freezing.
  • Keep garage doors closed during cold weather if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open cabinet doors so warm air can circulate around the pipes. Safety tip – make sure to keep harmful cleaning products and chemicals away from kids and pets.
  • In super cold weather conditions, let water slowly drip from the faucets of those lines exposed to the weather conditions.
  • If leaving your home for an extended period, keep the temperature on the thermostat to no lower than 55°F. Even trickling amounts of water continuously  running through the pipes can keep them from freezing.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

OK. So you’ve done everything you can to prevent frozen pipes and yet they froze anyway. Here’s what you can do to help thaw them out:

  • Open the faucets and leave them open. The water will need a place to escape as it begins to melt and flow through frozen areas. Leaving the faucet open removes the pressure on the pipe and makes it less likely to break.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. NEVER use an open flame as it poses a fire hazard. Use an electric heating pad, electric hair dryer, a safe portable space heater or use very hot towels that you wrap around the pipe.

If you can’t locate the frozen area, or can’t quickly get the ice to melt, call a licensed professional immediately. It’s better and cheaper to call a pro than to have your water pipes break.

Holiday Safety Tips In & Out of Your Home

by Amy December 23, 2014


The holiday season is upon us once again and with it comes plenty of celebrating and joyful cheer for you and your loved ones.  Unfortunately there are also perils and hazards that are associated with the holiday season as well.  Whether you are staying home or traveling we have a few tips to keep you, your family and your home safe this holiday season.

If you are staying home for the holidays and are hosting the festivities here is some general advice to make sure the celebrations go off without a hitch.

Cooking Safety – With the holidays come lots of eats and treats.  When spending time in the kitchen be sure to use care when working around hot surfaces and ovens.  Keep all flammable materials safely away from heat sources including loose sleeves and material you may be wearing.  Also be sure to warn all the children in your home to stay clear of the hot stove and any sharp knives or other dangers that might be lurking in the kitchen.

Christmas Tree Safety –  While Christmas trees rarely catch fire, when they do the results can be catastrophic.  Be sure to keep your natural tree completely watered and get rid of it as soon as the needles begin to dry out.  You also need to pay special attention to your strands of lights.  Thoroughly check for loose bulbs and damaged wires and plugs.  More than half of all Christmas tree fires are started by faulty electrical problems.  We have a great article outlining all the steps you can take to make sure your tree and decorations are safe.

Snow & Ice Removal – Most of us here in the U.S. have probably already had a shovel in our hands this winter.  Be sure to keep you and your holiday guests safe by keeping your driveway and all walkways clear of snow and ice.  Use rock salt on the areas that people will need to walk to help ensure that snow that melts does not refreeze on your sidewalks.  Also keep an eye on the roof-line of your home and any other overhang where icicles can form and become potential falling daggers.

Keep Your Home Secure – Even though you are staying home you should still keep all of your windows and doors locked and well secured.  This includes keeping your curtains and blinds closed as well…especially at night.  Criminals are cruising neighborhoods during the holiday season looking for easy opportunities.  If they can see valuables through a window they may be tempted to do a quick smash and grab.  Another mistake often made is running power cords through the crack of a window to power Christmas lights outside.  This leaves an easy entrance for the bad guys to breach your home.

Register Expensive Gifts – If Santa was kind to you be sure to register any expensive jewelry, electronics or other high priced items with the manufacturer or store they were purchased.  You can also take video or photographs of the items for insurance purposes should they come up missing.  If you want to mark any item without a serial number you can engrave your driver’s license number into it to identify it as your own.  Be sure not to use any other sensitive number like your social security number.

Don’t Toss Boxes of Expensive Gifts – After the gift giving is over be sure not to throw boxes from a new flat-screen, laptop or any other expensive item out with the recycling in plain sight.  Crooks are cruising the neighborhoods looking for this packaging as an indicator to what lies behind closed doors.

Should you be heading out for the holidays we have some tips to help your home stay safe while you are away.  Vacant homes are easy targets during the holidays.  We have an article on the top ten things that make your home a target to burglars.

Set Alarm – Don’t forget to set the alarm before you leave your home.  With all the packing and excitement of the holidays it can sometimes slip your mind to set the alarm and secure your home.  If you do not have an alarm system you might want to make a small investment and get one before leaving your home vulnerable.

Alert a Good Neighbor – If you are lucky you have good neighbors and hopefully some of them are staying home during your time away.  Let at least one know that you will be away and to please keep an eye out for any suspicious activity while you are gone.

Don’t Hide Keys – This is really not a good idea any time of the year.   Seasoned burglars know that people often hide keys outside and they are very familiar with hiding places.  If you are convinced that you can find a good spot, just be sure that it is never hidden near the front or back door.  Trust us, criminals will find it.  You are better off leaving it with a trustworthy neighbor.

Automatic Timer – When leaving for even just an overnight trip it is a good idea to buy yourself and automatic timer for one or two lights within your home.  It gives the impression that someone is active within the home.  Do not leave the lights on for 24 hours a day as this is just as obvious that no one is home as a home with no lights on.  Leaving a television on is ok as the lights change and flicker and does give the impression someone is home. This function can also be done by a home automation system.

Close the Curtains – Keeping the curtains or blinds closed does not give anyone driving by a clear line of sight into your home.  If criminals cannot see all the valuables you have inside they will be less likely to break into your home on a hunch.

No Social Media Posts – Posting that you are leaving for the holidays on social media is really dangerous.  It is all too easy to surf the net and look for these posts and then know that your house is empty and vulnerable to attack.  Wait until you return to share your trip with friends and family online.

Put Your Mail On Hold – Nothing says “Hey we aren’t home” like an overflowing mailbox or a stack of newspapers piling up in front of your home.  Before you leave, be sure to stop your mail service and newspaper delivery. You may want to consider hanging a “No Solicitors” sign out front to deter them from leaving anything on your front stoop.

We hope that you take these tips to heart whether you are staying home or traveling during the holiday season.  We wish you, your family and friends a safe and joyous holiday season!  If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your home please call My Alarm Center at 855 334 6562.  Our safety specialists will be happy to discuss all of your safety options.

Fire Safety – Christmas Trees, Lights & Candles

by Tammy December 18, 2014




The Christmas holiday season is a time of year that we should be spending with family and spreading joy to all of our loved ones.  During this time of year it may be easy to overlook some of the fire hazards that come along with the decorations of the season.

The NFPA estimates an average of 230 American homes are damaged each year by fires caused by ignited Christmas trees.  Another 150 home structure fires are caused by line voltage decorative lights.  Together these fires cause an average of 15 deaths, 38 injuries and $26.7 million dollars in property damage each year!  These sobering figures cannot be ignored and safety precautions need to be taken to help ensure you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Here are some great tips we would like to pass your way to help you keep your holiday fire free.

  1. When choosing a tree be sure to pick one that is a fresh as possible. Look to see your tree has green, semi-pliable needles.  Dry needles have a much higher possibility of catching fire.  Cutting down the tree yourself is the best way to ensure its freshness.
  2. If you have an artificial tree be sure it is labeled Fire Retardant by the manufacturer.  While having a real tree might bring a sense of holiday authenticity, the simple fact of the matter is that artificial trees are much less likely to catch fire.
  3. Before putting your real tree in a stand be sure to cut off at least 2 to 3 inches of the base to expose some fresh wood.  This will allow the tree to stay moist and prevent dryin gout.  Be sure to check the water level of the tree every day.  A real Christmas tree will be very thirsty in the dry winter months.
  4. Choose where you place your tree wisely.  Never place your tree near any heat source like a fireplace, radiator, heating vents, hot lights or candles.  And of course never place your tree in front of any exit.  In case of a fire you want to make sure you have a clear path to get out of the house.  Another suggestion is to place your tree somewhere that the tree cannot be knocked over by the family pet or playing children into a heat source.
  5. When choosing lights for your tree and extension cords be sure that they are rated properly by an independent testing laboratory and are UL-listed.  Some lights are intended for indoor or outdoor use only.  Today’s LED lights are a great choice as they do not create any heat. We hope it should go without saying, but never use real candles to light up your tree.  This is an old tradition before electric lights were invented and we highly suggest you do not attempt this.
  6. Once you have your new lights selected or have pulled out the lights from storage, be sure to check them well for any loose bulbs or damaged wires. If you can replace the bulbs be sure to unplug them before doing so to avoid any shock.  If the wires or plugs are defective, replace the entire string.  Don’t risk a fire due to an electrical issue as this is the number one reason trees ignite.
  7. When you are ready to plug in your lights, be sure not to overload any one circuit.  Plug a maximum of 3 light strings together.  If you are using LED lights, consult the manufacturer’s suggestion on how many strings you can safely plug into each other to create one chain.  It is highly suggested that you plug all lights into a surge outlet protector instead of directly into a wall outlet.  Lastly, always remember to shut off the lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
  8. If you will be decorating the outside of your home than be sure to choose lights that are intended for outdoor use.  Using indoor lights that are not designed to be used for outside weather can result in them shorting out or even worse.  Don’t run the risk of electrical shock or a fire hazard by using indoor lights outside.  If you are unsure if your lights are safe for outdoor use than look for the color-coded UL logo on the packaging.  A green logo is only safe for indoor use while the red logo can be used inside or outdoors safely.  The same safety precautions need to be taken with any extension cords that are being used.
  9. Once the festivities are over and the holiday has come and gone you are better off taking the tree down as soon as possible.  Real trees do not last that long and the needles will quickly begin to dry out making them a fire hazard.  The majority of fires involving Christmas trees happen after the holiday and not before.  It is also suggested that you remove outdoor lighting immediately after the holiday to reduce any risk of fire and to help preserve the life of your outdoor lights.

While Christmas tree fires are not a common occurrence, when they do happen the damage is usually significant as can be seen in the video at the end of this article.  These fires can also leave a significant scar on the memory of the holiday itself.  We hope that you find our tips useful and have a safe and happy holiday season with your family, friends and loved ones.

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