8 Tips for Christmas Tree Safety
Only you can prevent Christmas tree fires
As the holidays approach, it’s time to decorate your home – and for many, that means putting up a Christmas tree. While they’re beautiful and festive, they can also be dangerous. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Christmas trees account for 200 fires each year, resulting in a handful of deaths, injuries and more than $6 million in property damage. These fires are most typically caused by shorts in electrical lights or open flames around dry trees that have been poorly cared for.
Whether you display a live tree or an artificial tree, it’s important to adhere to the following rules. You may have heard them before, but everyone can use a reminder in the midst of all the hectic holiday hubbub. (Note: Rules four through eight apply to live and artificial trees.)
1. Select a fresh, vibrant tree that doesn’t easily lose its needles when you run your hand down its branches. Once the tree is in your home, regularly vacuum or sweep the area around the tree to remove sharp needles, which can poke and become a choking hazard for toddlers or pets.
2. Cut the tree-trunk bottom straight across – a disk about ½ to 1 inch thick – before you place it in the stand. (You can ask the vendor to do this if you’ll be putting your tree in water shortly after purchase.) This will help your Christmas tree stay healthy and green.
3. Water the tree as soon as you get it home, and then water it regularly after that. If you can’t put the tree in the stand right away, place it in a bucket of water in a location away from sunshine and wind. A well-hydrated tree looks better, lasts longer and is less flammable.
4. Put your tree in a safe location, away from heat sources such as heaters, radiators, fireplaces and electrical appliances. A cool tree is safer and will stay fresh longer.
5. Check all holiday lights for loose connections, frayed or exposed wires, and broken plugs. Christmas lights should have certification from a testing laboratory.
6. Follow the directions that came with your extension cord when you’re connecting strings of lights. As a general rule, you should have no more than three strings of lights per extension cord.
7. Keep breakable ornaments and those with sharp hooks high on the tree, out of the reach of small children. A fallen hook or shattered ornament can easily injure a child or a pet.
8. Never leave a lit tree unattended. Unplug your tree before you leave the house or go to bed.
Christine Beaudry is a freelance writer and editor specializing in pregnancy and parenting topics. She has written for local and national publications, is married and has two terrific daughters. Her family is currently living an adventurous couple of years in Costa Rica.