5 Christmas Tree Safety Tips

holiday candleA Christmas tree is one of the best parts of the holiday season and brings a special beauty and creativity into the home and. So it's no wonder that around 36 million trees are sold by growers each year. These trees are generally safe, but when they do catch fire they can be deadly. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that 1 in 40 Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to 1 in 142 of all residential fires. These fires also cause an average of $17.3 million in damage each year. Let's look at how you can prevent fire damage whether you choose a real or artificial tree for your celebration.

Choosing Your Tree

Before you bundle up and head to the tree lot, measure the space where you'll place your tree and take your tape measure with you. Trees will generally look smaller outdoors and just “eyeballing it” can lead to buying one that's too large. Make sure all the needles on your tree are green and none of them are falling off. Needles that are easily broken are also a bad sign. Strike the bottom of the trunk against the ground and see how many needles fall out. A few brown ones? No problem. More than a few green needles? Select a different tree. If several trees dump a bunch of green needles, try another tree lot. If you're going to a tree farm where you cut your own tree, make sure you wear work gloves and proper eye protection. If your tree is artificial, make sure it's labeled “fire resistant” or “fire retardant.” If it's the type with built-in lights, make sure it's rated by Underwriter's Laboratories or some other nationally recognized testing laboratory and look it over for frayed wires, kinks, etc.

Placement of Your Christmas Tree

Your tree should not be near any exit and should be at least 3 feet from any heat source, including central heating vents. Ignition from a stray spark or high temperature isn't the only concern; as we'll see below, a dry tree is an extreme fire hazard, so dry heated air blowing across it is the last thing you want. In fact, the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) notes that nearly 25% of all Christmas tree fires involved a heat source being too close. Before you place the tree in its stand, cut 2 inches off the bottom of the trunk. This will make it easier for the tree to draw in water.

Water Your Christmas Tree

This video from the National Institute of Standards and Technology demonstrates the stark difference between a real tree that's well-watered and one allowed to dry out as the season goes on. As you can see, it's important to add water to your tree stand daily. Consider lowering the temperature in the room to reduce drying.

Holiday Lights and Decorations

The rules for decorations are the same whether your tree is real or artificial. Never use candles on or near it. Only use lights with a UL rating and check them carefully for loose connections, frayed wires, kinks and other signs of wear. These can set the tree ablaze or carry current through an artificial tree's metal frame, causing a shock. Half of all Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical malfunctions, so you literally can't be too careful about this. Be sure to unplug your lights before going to bed each night.

After the Holidays

Even a well-watered tree should be disposed of after four weeks. If possible, recycle your Christmas tree immediately. Some communities offer this service and make mulch out of recycled Christmas trees. If recycling is not an option, place your old Christmas tree outside, well away from any buildings. Cases of discarded trees catching fire are surprisingly common and (according to ACTA) two-thirds occurred in January with 64% of the fires set by arsonists who may find the sudden rush of fire from a dry tree “attractive.” Following these tips will make sure your tree is just the spot to gather for joyous family times. Please accept our best wishes for a lovely, safe and fulfilling holiday season! LDR Cleaning and Restoration is one of the premier restoration companies in Rockford, Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. LDR provides restoration services from water damage, mold removal, fire damage restoration, storm and hail damage repair for commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Click here to contact LDR, or call 1-888-874-7066. Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


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