shutterstock_228613051We’ve all heard the lyrics to the Christmas carol, O Christmas Tree. “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How lovely are your branches.” As one of the most recognized symbols of the Christmas season, most of us enjoy the festivity and beauty of our own Christmas tree every year.  While nostalgic, your beautifully decorated Christmas tree can also be a deadly fire hazard if not handled with care.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA),  from 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 230 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees. Home Christmas tree fires caused an average of six civilian deaths, 22 civilian injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage per year. Proper preparation, care and maintenance of your tree will keep your holiday from turning tragic.  The NFPA has provided the following Christmas tree Safety Tips.
Picking the tree

  • If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1″ – 2″ from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas

  • Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Click HERE for information about the Westminster program.  Also, make sure to bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

You may also download these Christmas Tree Safety Tips HERE.  While Christmas tree fires are infrequent, when they do occur, they are serious, according to the NFPA. Please keep your home and family safe this Christmas season by handling your tree with care.  The safety and protection of our clients is of utmost importance to our agency.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the team at RSS!