The stockings are hung, the decorations are up and the lights are on. The Christmas season is here and ready to fill our homes with family, food and cheer. Each holiday season, we decorate our homes for Christmas all focused on the holiday centerpiece, the tree. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, approximately 25-30 million real trees sold in the United States every year.
Christmas trees have become a holiday staple. Even if you aren’t willing to go through the hassle of a real tree, it’s almost impossible to go into a home, office or any building during December without seeing a decorated tree. With so many trees, it’s important to remember the risks associated with this holiday icon. According to a report by the NFPA, approximately 210 Christmas trees ignite each year. Of these fires, 1 out of every 40 result in a fatality, compared to an average 1 in 144 total reported home fires. But don’t let statistics ruin your holiday season. Follow these simple tips to keep your tree and your Christmas safe.
1. Go for green!
When picking out your tree, look for one with lush, green branches. Avoid trees that are dry and brown. A good way to test is grab about eight inches into a branch and pull your hand out towards you. If a lot of needles fall off, it is a dry tree.
2. Find the right spot!
Before placing your tree, cut off about two inches from the bottom of the trunk and trim any drooping branches. Find a place for your tree that is at least 3 feet away from any heat source including fireplaces, candles or radiators. And make sure your tree isn’t blocking any exits.
3. Give it a drink!
Like all plants, your tree needs water. To keep it alive longer and avoid it drying out, make sure put water in the tree stand each day. IF your tree does become dry, turn off the lights on it immediately and discard it.
4. Light it right!
When buying lights to put on your tree, only select lights that have a label from a recognized safety testing laboratory. Check the usage instructions to ensure your only use lights intended for indoors on your tree. Never use lit candles to light your tree. Always turn off the lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
5. Add the ornaments!
If you are buying ornaments, look for ones that are flame-retardant. Look through your old ornaments to see if there are any made of paper or other flammable materials. Instead of put these on the tree where they could become a hazard, try putting them into a frame or scrapbook so you can keep the memory without the risk.
6. Check your wiring!
One of every three Christmas tree fires are caused by an electrical problem. To ensure that isn’t you, check all wires for frays or overuse. Never use damaged lights or wires. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets together, and no more than 50 bulbs for screw in light sets.
7. Wrap presents wisely!
A Christmas tree isn’t complete without gifts neatly wrapped and placed beneath it. Since presents are usually wrapped in paper products, it poses a potential threat. Make sure no presents are placed too close to lights and keep any bows and ribbons far from open flames.
8. Make your holidays safe!
It only takes a few precautions to keep your holiday season bright and fire-free. Make sure to check your smoke alarms before the holiday season so they can warn you in time of any potential fire danger in your home.