Did you know that Christmas trees alone result in $13 million dollars in property damage every year? According to the American Christmas Tree Association, the combination of tree dryness, lighting malfunctions and placement near a flammable heat source can be deadly during the holiday season. So let’s make sure we all stay safe with a few tips to ensure your tree is in great shape and won’t cause a fire in your home. Here we go:
The drought has made for incredibly dry conditions, so when you’re choosing a tree it’s important to make sure the needles are green and spring back when you bend them. If they snap easily or if the tree is shedding needles while still in the lot or on the farm, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Once you have your tree, be sure to place it at least three feet away from lights, cords, radiators, fireplaces, vents, or any other heat source. The perfect aesthetic placement might not be the safest, so be smart and avoid any kind of set-up that can start a fire. Also, don’t place a tree anywhere between you and an exit. You want to have a clear path out of the house in case of any emergency.
Remember to keep your tree well watered. The drier the tree, the more flammable it will be, so keep the base full and check it every day.
Inspect your lights before you begin decorating. Remove and replace any damaged bulbs and throw away strands that aren’t working properly. If you buy new, make sure they have been checked by an independent testing laboratory for safety. There should be a label on the box or the strings themselves denoting this safety measure.
Indoor lights are made for the indoors and outdoor lights are for outside. This may sound silly but pay attention to what kind of lights you’re using for what purpose. Different wattages and configurations can be a fire hazard if not used correctly.
Keep candles far away from your tree. An open flame can light up a tree in seconds. Also it’s a good idea to keep a small fire extinguisher near the tree in case of an emergency.
If you’re going out or going to bed, be sure to switch the tree off. Sure, the holiday twinkle may look lovely for the neighbors, but you don’t want to be woken up by smoke or come home to a house burned to the ground.
Once the needles start to fall, it’s time to get rid of the tree. Do not leave any old greenery in your garage or leaning up against your home as they can be a real fire hazard. Use the community recycling program to dispose of your tree safely. For Bristol residents, the city collects trees after New Year’s Day for approximately two weeks. Trees can be placed curbside by 6am on your regular rubbish collection day.
While Christmas tree fires are not overly common, one false move can engulf your entire home in flames. Follow these tips to keep your family safe and happy tree hunting!