SAFD issues Christmas tree fire warning

Fire chief shares tips to prevent a holiday disaster

SAN ANTONIO – One of the most popular holiday traditions for many families is buying a real Christmas tree.

While having a live tree is traditional, the joy of a beautiful tree can turn into a fiery disaster in less than a minute, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

Reminding people about the dangers of Christmas tree fires has become a holiday tradition for Hood.

"The important thing to remember is to water that tree every single day, make sure there are not heating elements close to it, space heaters, pets, small kids, any kind of candles," Hood said.

If the tree starts to drop its needles, that could become a fire hazard. Hood said having a dry tree is like having a 5-gallon gas can in your house.

"Three seconds to ignite, two seconds to spread to the surrounding area and just over 40 seconds to flash over, fully involving the room," Hood said.

When Christmas is over, the tree needs to moved out of the house, Hood said. Make sure that the tree isn't leaning against the house or a wooden fence.

Just in time for Christmas, temperatures are starting to fall and that means some residents will use different methods to stay warm at night.

Hood said avoid using an open flame or a stove to keep warm. He also said be careful using a space heater to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

"It's the No. 1 cause of acute poisoning death in developed countries," said Dr. Andres Vasconcellos, associate medical director of the emergency department at Westover Hills Christus Santa Rosa Hospital.

Since the gas is odorless and colorless, victims sometimes aren't aware of the symptoms until they kick in.

Symptoms include, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. In some severe cases, seizures, coma and death can occur, Vasconcellos said.

If using a generator, space heater or similar device, make sure the area is well ventilated.

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