For generations of children, it’s been the most obvious sign that the Christmas season is really, truly, finally, here: a tree, beautifully decorated, smack in the middle of the house. And, for generations of adults, getting and decorating the tree is one of the season’s most familiar traditions.
That familiarity, though, can be a problem. When a tradition becomes too familiar, it’s easy to overlook something important, such as safety.
As enchanting as they are, Christmas trees can actually be dangerous. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association says that, on average, fire departments respond to more than 200 fires related to Christmas trees each year.
To help ensure your local fire department doesn’t need to pay you a visit this holiday season, here are some common-sense tips on Christmas tree safety:
Selecting and Setting Up Your Christmas Tree
- Choosing artificial? Check for a flame retardant label or certification.
- Getting a real tree? Make sure it’s fresh, with green needles that don’t fall out when you give the tree a good shake. Brownish needles signal a dry tree prone to catching fire.
- No matter the tree type, keep it at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, radiator, candles or lights. And, make sure it’s not blocking an exit.
- Before placing a real tree in its stand, trim the base about a half-inch, cutting perpendicular to the stem axis. Cutting at an angle or into a V-shape makes it harder for the tree to get water.
- Speaking of water, place your tree in water as soon as possible, in a stand with adequate capacity. One rule of thumb: a quart of water for each inch of stem diameter.
Decorating and Maintaining Your Holiday Tree
- Don’t connect more than three strands of lights together, and check them for frayed wires or excessive wear. All lights, and other decorations, should be flame retardant.
- Water your real tree a little each day to keep it from drying out. Never let the water level fall below the base.
- Turn off the lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Take your real tree down after about two to four weeks, even if it’s been watered regularly. Check for recycling options for disposal.
We know a Christmas tree can be a special part of the holidays, and we want you to enjoy the tradition. These safety tips will help.
Happy decorating everyone!
Did You Know? The lyrics sung in the United States to the German tune “O Tannenbaum” begin “O Christmas tree,” leading many to think the German word tannenbaum (fir tree) means Christmas tree, the German word for which is instead weihnachtsbaum.
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