Winter Fire Prevention

Fire Tips for WinterChristmas Tree State CodeChristmas Tree Facts

Fire Tips for Winter

Winter in Minnesota can be snowy and bright…or windy and cold. Either way, it’s important to make sure your family is safe from accidents that can happen inside when it gets cold outside.

In the winter, heating  and cooking are the most common causes of fires at home. Fires usually start when towels, paper, or clothing are too close to candles, the stove or fireplace.

Space heaters can also start fires when left too close to furniture, curtains, or clothing.

Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that burns and never buy a space heater without a safety switch that turns the space heater off should it accidentally fall on the floor.

Fireplaces help heat the house, but if the chimney isn’t clean, dangerous fires can start. Have an expert check the chimney each year to be sure it is safe. When lighting fires, use clean wood – never paper – and close fire doors so flames and smoke stay in the chimney. If you decorate for a winter holiday, turn off the lights and blow out candles before you sleep or leave the house. Plants and trees should be watered often so they don’t dry out and spark a fire from stoves, heaters, candles or holiday lights.

It only takes a few seconds for candles to start a fire. Remember the “three feet” rule? Keep candles at least three feet away from clothing or furniture. Melting wax can spread fire to papers, so keep candles in containers big enough to hold hot wax. And make sure children and pets don’t get close to candles either.

To protect your family, buy and install smoke alarms. Most fire deaths happen in homes without smoke detectors with fresh batteries to sound an alarm when fire starts.

It’s also good to talk to your family about what they should do to get out of the house fast when there is fire. Fire alarms will give you time to get out…but smoke and heat can make it hard to see the way. Talk to the fire department for safety tips. Fire is one danger, but a poison gas called carbon monoxide might be more dangerous because you can’t see, taste it, or even smell it.

Carbon monoxide can leak from gas appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, or kitchen stoves. Never use a charcoal or barbeque grill in your house because these give off lots of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide also comes from cars. Always start the car engine outside or leave the garage door open. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for the flu because it makes you sick with a headache, stomach ache, dizziness, and vomiting.

If symptoms improve when you leave your house, it may be carbon monoxide that is making you sick. If you feel sick, try opening windows or if necessary, get out of the house and see a doctor or medical professional for help. It’s a good idea to have gas appliances checked each year by someone trained to detect poison gas leaks and install a carbon monoxide detector in your home…so the alarm goes off in time to keep your family safe.

Information on Christmas Trees according to the MN State Fire Code

  1. Natural or resin bearing Christmas trees or decorations, with lights, are allowed to be used within the individual dwelling units of Residential occupancies which include; Apartment buildings, Boarding houses, Dormitories, Duplexes, etc. However they may be placed in the common areas of the buildings. Also, it is the privilege of the property owner or management of such buildings to not allow such trees in their buildings. We have no jurisdiction over such rules.
  2. Natural or resin bearing Christmas trees or decorations, without electric lights or open flame, are allowed to be used within the following occupancies;
    1. Educational occupancies
    2. Assembly occupancies used for worship services (churches)
    3. Residential occupancies used as hotels, in the common areas.
    4. Business occupancies
    5. Mercantile occupancies
  3. Natural or resin bearing Christmas trees or decorations are not allowed to be used within any Assembly occupancy which include; Theaters, Auditoriums, Gymnasiums and Meeting rooms, Restaurants and Bars with an occupant load of 50 or more, etc.
    EXCEPTION: Natural or resin bearing Christmas trees or decorations, without electric lights or open flame, are allowed in places of worship (churches).
  4. In all other occupancies, natural or resin bearing Christmas or decorations are not allowed to be used.
  5. Flame retardant artificial Christmas trees and decorations, with electric lights, are permitted in all occupancies.
  6. No Christmas tree whether real or artificial, in any occupancy, shall be placed in any area that will block or obstruct access to required exits or obstruct or block access to any fire protection equipment.
  7. Electric lights must be UL approved.

Christmas Trees Fact Sheet

The use and display of natural or resin-bearing Christmas trees is permitted in dwelling units of apartment buildings and in single -family dwellings. The use and display of natural or resin-bearing Christmas trees without the use of candles or electric lights is permitted in schools, churches, hotels, and businesses as long as they do not obstruct exits or fire protection equipment.

The use or display of flame-retardant artificial trees with listed electric light decorations is allowed in all occupancies as long as they do not obstruct access to exits or fire-protection equipment.

The following items are a reprint of the requirements relating to Christmas trees found in the 2003 Minnesota State Fire Code:

804.1.1 Christmas trees. The use and display of natural or resin-bearing Christmas trees is prohibited.

EXCEPTIONS:

The use and display of natural or resin-bearing Christmas trees or decorations inside individual dwelling units of Group R-2 and -3 occupancies are permitted.

Natural or resin-bearing trees without open flames or electric lights are allowed in Group E occupancies used for hotels and congregate residences, and Group B and M occupancies.

804.1.1.1 Use of artificial Christmas trees. The use or display of flame-retardant artificial trees with listed electric light decorations is allowed in all occupancies as long as they meet the requirements of 804.1.1.2.

804.1.1.2 Location. Christmas trees shall not block access to required exits or obstruct, impair or block access to any fire-protection device, appliance or equipment.