Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Here come the 'tree fire' stories!

It's that time of year when more than 30 million homes in the U.S. will decorate with a farm-grown Christmas tree. It's also a time when consumers will read or see the "Christmas tree fire story" and be scared out of buying a real tree.

The growers and retailers of farm-grown trees have been working with fire safety officials, scientists and testing labs for years to provide scientifically proven steps on how to properly display a harvested tree to ensure high moisture content. These tips can be found at http://www.christmastree.org/care.cfm

Hopefully people will follow our care instructions and not be fooled by dramatized news stories. What do I mean by dramatized news stories? Have you seen the clip from the Tonight Show? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9dNS5WPncU

Often, consumers are told that "Christmas trees can cause a fire in a manner of seconds." This is highly erroneous and unethical. A National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published report on Christmas Tree Fires shows just the opposite. First of all, a cut Christmas tree has NEVER, ever, ever in history CAUSED a fire. Fires are caused by sparks, flames, heat or chemical reactions.

Secondly, if you look at the NFPA data, you see that a confirmed average of 111 fires per year between 2002 and 2005 in the U.S. were ones in which a cut tree was the first item ignited in a residential fire, both accidentally and intentionally. During the same period of the report, an average of 28 million cut Christmas trees were displayed. Divide 111 by 28 million. You get 0.0000039, or 0.0004%. You'd think that number would be MUCH higher based on the caterwauling on local action news broadcasts.

Thirdly, another interesting item in the NFPA report is that fire officials state clearly that artificial trees also catch on fire every year. Currently, no testing lab or standards for those products to meet in order to print the words "flame retardant" on their packaging exist. They're really just words on a box. Fake trees catch on fire every year. According to the NFPA report, 28% confirmed residential fires where a Christmas tree was the first item ignited were a fake tree. But consumers are seldom told this.

Please don't be scared by people with misleading information and typical news media scare tactics. They're not interested in getting you the facts, they're only interested in getting you to watch the evening news.

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