In past days, having a Christmas tree in the house was a sure way to put your family at risk for fire. Let’s be honest- who ever thought putting candles on a dry pine tree was a good idea? It’s a fire just waiting to happen! We’ve come a long way since then, but there are still some hazards associated with Christmas trees. Let’s talk about some tips for Christmas tree safety.
The first most important part of Christmas tree safety is choosing a tree that is healthy and green. The needles of pines and spruces should bend and not break. They should be hard to pull off the branches. On fir species, a needle pulled from a fresh tree will snap when bent, much like a fresh carrot. The trunk of the tree should still be sticky and the limbs should be very flexible. Heft the tree and bounce the cut end on the ground. If you see a whole bunch of needles come tumbling off, it isn’t the safest tree to take home.
Once you’ve chosen a tree, you must choose a place to put it in your home. Be sure that you keep your tree away from heated areas like fireplaces or radiators. Make sure that the tree does not block foot traffic or doorways. Now you need to keep your tree well hydrated. Just like a person, trees will wither and die without water. Keep the water in the stand well above the fresh cut bottom of the trunk. You don’t need to add anything but water (your tree doesn’t have sugar or caffeine cravings). There are, however, products available to help your Christmas tree from getting too thirsty.
Now, when you start decorating your tree, you need to be aware of the lights that you’re using. Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights only outdoors. Look for the UL label. Check all the lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. You should replace or repair any damaged light sets. You should also use no more than three light sets on one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall in order to avoid tripping hazards. You should also not run cords under rugs. Be sure that when you leave the house or go to bed that you have turned off all the lights on trees and decorations.
There are also some safety hazards associated with tree ornaments or other miscellaneous decor. Always use a step ladder or stool to reach high places. Read the labels before you use materials that come in jars, cans, and spray cans. Remember to never, ever place lighted candles on a tree or near anything that is flammable. Don’t place breakable tree ornaments or small ornaments with detachable parts within reach of small children or pets. Do not hang edible decorations on your Christmas tree when small children are around. They may think that all the other tree ornaments are also edible.
If you’re worried about the safety hazards associated with having a real tree, consider purchasing an artificial tree. They are safer because they do not pose as much of a fire hazard as a real tree (this is not to say that artificial trees don’t come with their own safety issues- artificial trees that spin on their bases may be unsafe to leave unattended, as well as some other types of artificial trees). However, even with an artificial tree, many of the above mentioned safety reminders apply.
Following these tips will not guarantee that your tree will be safe. But they will help. Just be smart and be aware, and you should be able to go through this Christmas season without any safety problems.