As the holiday season approaches and many across the U.S. are setting up their Douglas firs, white pines or spruce trees in the house, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has sent out an alarming warning.
Video above: Watch how fast a dry Christmas tree can go up in flames
The CPSC took to Twitter Saturday, posting a striking image of a fiery skeleton in a living room decorated for Christmas. Text on the image says, "WATER YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE" and "A dry Christmas tree burns faster than newspaper."
The image was posted with the word "Soon." in the tweet. The message, while a little morbid, is getting plenty of attention and acts as a good reminder.
"CPSC is always looking for new and innovative ways to reach consumers with our messaging, especially as families begin to gather and celebrate the holidays," Nychelle Fleming, the agency's communications specialist, told CNN Tuesday.
This post was a part of the company's yearly holiday safety campaign.
Joe Galbo, social media specialist for the commission, pointed out, "In a matter of seconds, a whole room can be consumed by a flaming Christmas tree. So, while the skeleton was a very dramatic way to convey it, it was certainly appropriate given how dangerous a dry Christmas tree can be."
From 2015 to 2017 there was an annual average of 100 Christmas tree fires and 1,100 candle fires, according to the CPSC's 2020 news release, resulting in 20 deaths, 160 injuries and about $50 million in property damage each year.
In a thread following the tweet, the company added humor to the warning with tweets like "Thanks for helping us get this message out there, everyone. NASA has to send things into space to get this kind of attention. You all are the best." And "This is your CPSC holiday fire flaming skeleton walking out of a Christmas tree graphic, America."
This isn't the company's first time using stand-out images to send out messages. They have a history of using social media platforms to remind Americans about proper safety measures.
They continued to warn people, though, with more safety tips in the Twitter thread by reminding everyone to "Water your real Christmas tree if you get one," and "Stand by your pan this Thanksgiving."
How to prevent holiday hazards
With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching next week, the latter message is timely. According to the safety group's 2020 news release, an average of 1,700 cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day alone, more than three times the average number on any other day of the year.
The best advice for families gathering next week, Fleming urged, is to "never leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven."
According to the CPSC, there has been a trend of deep-frying turkeys in recent years. Fleming suggested if you do use that cooking method, "Do it outside only and away from your home. By that we mean not in the garage, not on the porch, not on the patio, get a little farther away."
The consumer safety group has safety warnings for the holly jolly time of the year, too.
"If you're decorating with strings of holiday lights, check for broken bulbs, cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections." Fleming advised.
Along with decorations, the gifts of the season can be a threat too, especially to children.
"When you think about the holidays, you think about toys and children," Fleming observed. "Using age labeling on toys as a guide is the most important safety tip."
An updated CPSC report with data from 2019 will be out Thursday with the latest information.