Your Christmas tree is probably one of your most important and exciting holiday decorations. The glittering lights, smell of pine, and fun ornaments all help you bring the holiday spirit into your home. Unfortunately Christmas trees also bring a fire hazard into your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 230 home fires a year start with Christmas trees.
You don’t have to give up your favorite holiday traditions—you just need to be safe and smart when decorating your home with a Christmas tree. Use the following safety tips to prevent any problems.
Picking Your Tree
As a general rule, artificial trees are safer than live trees since they don’t get dried out. Check your tree to make sure it is certified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
If a live Christmas tree is an important part of your holiday traditions, you don’t have to switch to an artificial tree, you should just choose your live tree wisely.
Freshly cut Christmas trees are less likely to catch fire. Use the following criteria to choose a tree:
- The tree should look green and vibrant.
- The needles on the tree should be difficult to pluck off.
- The tree shouldn’t be shedding very many needles.
Putting Up The Tree
Whether you choose a live tree or an artificial tree, you need to choose a safe spot to place it in your home. The tree should never block an exit to your home and it should be at least 3-4 feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, heat vents, candles or lamps.
If you have chosen a live tree, cut off 1-2 inches of the trunk before placing it in the tree stand. After the tree is cut down, it begins to seal itself with sap to stay fresh. This sap can be extremely flammable. Cut off the bottom of the tree and place it in water. Remember to water the tree daily so it doesn’t dry out.
Decorating Your Tree
Part of what makes a Christmas tree so inviting is the pretty twinkling lights. To make sure the lights are safe, follow these tips whether your tree is artificial or from a nearby forest:
- Check for cracked sockets, loose connections, and frayed or bare wires. If the strand of lights is damaged, repair or replace it before putting it on your tree.
- Some lights are for indoor use and some are for outdoor use. Check the labels and use them accordingly.
- Always turn the lights off before going to bed.
- Don’t string more than 3 strands of lights together. Read the manufacturers guidelines to be safe.
- Don’t overload your outlet. You shouldn’t plug more than one extension cord into the outlet in your wall.
- Candles are pretty, but they don’t belong on or near trees. Use them in other parts of your holiday decorations, but don’t put them on the tree.
Disposing of Your Tree
If you’ve chosen a live Christmas tree, you’ll need to take care of it when the holiday season is over. Use these tips:
- Get rid of the tree when the needles start to drop. Most Christmas trees last about 4 weeks. If you put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving, keeping it up until New Years Day may be too long.
- Do not burn the tree in your fireplace, wood stove, or backyard. The sap from the tree can be a bit explosive. Instead check for a recycling program or pick up day in your community.
- Don’t leave your tree in the house or garage while you wait for it to be hauled away. It should be stored outside, away from your home.
Christmas trees don’t have to be hazardous. Follow these tips for a safe and happy holiday season.