Christmas Tree Safety Tips

By: Rachel Alig Email
By: Rachel Alig Email

Thanksgiving is now behind us, and many families are planning for one of the next big holidays, Christmas. Part of this will likely include a Christmas Tree, but if you're not careful, they could present a safety hazard.

According to the United States Fire Administration, Christmas trees account for 250 fires annually, resulting in 14 deaths, 26 injuries and more than $13.8 million in property damages. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters, or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. Dry and neglected trees can be.

"Basically what you're looking at is on the left is a live Christmas Tree that has not been hydrated. That on the right has been hydrated."

That's Allen Dover, the Lauderdale County Fire Coordinator, explaining how important it is to take proper care of your Christmas Tree. As seen in the video from the National Fire Protection Association, if your tree is not properly hydrated and a fire starts, it will spread much more rapidly. That's why he recommends cutting anywhere between one and four inches of the bottom of the tree. This will provide a pathway for water to be able to go into the tree to stay hydrated. Dover says there are other things to look for when buying a tree.

"Some of the things they can do while they are looking at the tree is to touch the needles of the tree. If they are falling off in their hands, that tree is already dehydrated, so they want to get a tree that is at least partially hydrated before they take it home."

Once you do get your tree home, you should add water to it daily. And next, Dover says you need to make sure the bulbs on the string of lights you are putting on your tree are approved for indoor use.

"We have seen fires in the past where people use outdoor lighting, which has higher wattage incandescent light bulb, which puts out more heat. As a tree becomes dehydrated and they use these types of bulbs, then the tree can catch on fire," explains Dover.

Other safety tips to consider when putting up your Christmas tree include placing your tree at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights. When placing your tree, you should not black any exits.

"Some of the other things they can do is making sure they don't connect all of your lights together. Don't overload your circuits. Making sure there's no broken places in the wiring of the insulation covering the wiring, making sure that there are smoke alarms."

And Dover wants everyone to remember this.

"It doesn't take very long for these rooms to become involved, to involve the house, it can make it almost impossible to escape the home."

Now once Christmas and the holidays are over, there are certain safety tips you should also consider when taking down your tree. The National Fire Protection Association suggests getting rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Trees should not be left in the home, garage, or placed outside against the home. Trees should be recycled.

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