Christmas tree safety tips | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Christmas tree safety tips

Metro Creative

Christmas trees can be as dangerous as they are heartwarming.

Christmas trees are staples of the holiday season that can be found in millions of households across the globe. But Christmas trees can be as dangerous as they are heartwarming.

According to the American Christmas Tree Association, Christmas tree fires contribute to $13 million in property damage annually. Many Christmas tree fires involve live Christmas trees that, while beautiful, pose a greater fire threat than artificial trees because they can dry out, making them vulnerable to electric lights and nearby heating sources.

Homeowners can take the following steps, courtesy of the ACTA, to prevent Christmas tree fires.

Purchase a fresh tree. The ACTA notes that fresh trees are less likely to catch fire than trees that were cut weeks before being purchased. Avoid trees that are shedding their needles. Try to purchase trees with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck. Purchasing freshly cut trees from tree farms instead of grocery store parking lot vendors, whose trees might have been cut weeks earlier, can ensure trees are fresh.

Discard damaged lights. Damaged lights are not just an eyesore but a significant safety threat. Electrical malfunctions in lights can contribute to tree fires, so discard any damaged lights. Before placing lights on the tree, stretch each strand out on the floor and plug them in to see if any lights are damaged or burned out, replacing those that don't pass inspection.

Place the tree away from heat sources. Christmas trees are the centerpieces of holiday decorations. But trees should never be placed near heat sources, no matter how aesthetically appealing certain spots may seem. Keep trees away from fireplaces, radiators, candles, heating vents and lights.

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Keep the tree watered. A tree that gets ample water is less likely to dry out, and dried out trees pose a significant fire risk. Check water levels and water trees in the morning and night as needed, and even more frequently if necessary.

Turn lights off at night. Christmas tree lights should always be turned off at night when residents are going to bed. In addition, lights should never be on when no one is home.