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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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SafetyTIPS: A Fire-Safe Holiday Season



A Fire-Safe Holiday Season

The holidays are a wonderful time of year! However, it is important to remember that decorative lights, candles, and Christmas trees can unfortunately become fire hazards this time of year. Portland Fire & Rescue urges citizens to follow these important fire safety tips to help insure a fire safe holiday season.

Tree Care

  • Choose a fresh tree with a natural, deep-green color and flexible needles.
  • Cut off about two inches of the tree trunk at an angle to expose fresh wood for better water absorption.
  • Water the tree every day. An average tree may consume between a quart and a gallon of water per day. If the water level drops below the cut end of the tree, a seal will form on the cut and the tree will not be able to absorb any more water.
  • Keep the tree away from all sources of heat to preserve its freshness. Miniature lights are a better decoration choice than standard sized lights. The cooler miniature lights do not dry the tree needles as quickly.
  • When the needles get brittle or dull and begin to fall from the tree, it is time for the tree to go back outside.


  • Use only lights that are UL approved. Check every set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections before using. Throw away anything that is not in perfect condition.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights and cause electrocution. Use colored spotlights as an alternative.
  • Use no more than three sets of lights per single extension. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strings in one circuit.
  • Always turn off all tree lights and decorations before you go to bed or leave your home.


  • Keep candles away from Christmas trees, evergreen clippings, decorations, presents and wrapping paper.
  • Place candles in a sturdy fire-proof candle holder where they cannot be knocked over.
  • Make sure all candles are out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Keep candles, matches and lighters out of children’s reach.


  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable; keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children; and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food.

Woodstove/Fireplace Safety

  • Remove all greens, boughs, paper, and other decorations from the woodstove/fireplace area.
  • Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use a fireplace screen at all times when a fire is burning in the fireplace.
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper, boughs, or trees in the woodstove or fireplace.

And as always, please make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and in each bedroom.

PF&R Wishes You and Your Family A Fire-Safe Holiday Season!


   Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   December 13, 2010 


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