Christmas Tree Safety Tips

Christmas time and decorating the Christmas tree is a favorite part of many people’s holiday season. Many family traditions involve going to a tree farm or Christmas tree store to pick out the perfect tree. A real tree can add the beauty of the season to your home and fill it with a pleasant scent of pine.

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Unfortunately, real Christmas trees can also pose a fire hazard. According to the National Safety Council, each year more than 400 residential fires involve Christmas trees and tragically nearly 40 deaths and 100 injuries result from those fires. To help protect your family this holiday season, below is a list of important Christmas tree safety tips.

Christmas Trees:

  • Select a fresh tree by looking for one that is green.
  • The needles of pine and spruce trees should bend, not break, and be hard to pull off the branches.
  • For the fir tree species, the needles should snap when bent, much like a fresh carrot.
  • Also, look for sticky sap on the tree’s trunk.
  • Cut off approximately two inches of the tree’s trunk and place the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand.
  • Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times so that the tree does not dry out too quickly.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet (one meter) away from any heat source, such as fireplaces and radiators.
  • Try to position the tree near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances.
  • Do not place the tree where it blocks doorways or foot traffic.
  • If you decide to use an artificial tree, buy one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant.
  • Be sure the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label is on an artificial tree with built-in electrical systems.

Tree Lights:

  • Only use indoor lights with the UL label.
  • Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
  • Replace any damaged light sets.
  • Do not use more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Also be sure to place the extension cord next to a wall to avoid a tripping hazard.
  • Do not run extension cords under rugs.
  • Always turn off lights and decorations on your Christmas tree when you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Never use electric lights on a metal tree.

Tree Ornaments:

  • Avoid placing breakable or small tree ornaments with detachable parts on the tree’s lower branches where small children and pets can reach them.
  • Never place lighted candles on a tree or near any flammable materials or decorations.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on all Christmas tree ornaments.
  • Use the proper step stool or ladder to reach the top of the tree while decorating.

Disposing of Tree:

It is time to dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in a house, garage, or placed against the house.

To keep your family and home safe this year, be sure to check your smoke alarms, replace batteries as needed, and know what your fire escape plan is. For more tips, information, or how to create a fire escape plan, visit the National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org.

Happy Holidays!