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Tips For Keeping Your Christmas Tree Fresh and Fire Safe

Having a live Christmas tree in your home during the holidays can greatly enhance your holiday atmosphere with the smells of pine and the natural beauty of a freshly cut tree. However, it is important to take steps to ensure that your tree stays fresh and fire safe while it is in your home. A fresh and well maintained Christmas tree will not only look good longer, but it will be less of a fire risk.

According to the National Fire Protection Association*:

  • Between 2003-2007, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 250 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 14 deaths, 26 injuries, and $13.8 million in direct property damage annually.
  • Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 18 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death.

The following tips are some great ways to keep your tree looking good and your home safe during the holidays.

Plan ahead- Buy your Christmas tree a day or two before you plan on bringing it in your home. Place your Christmas tree outside in a bucket filled with water for 1-2 days. This will allow the tree to naturally open up which ensures that when the tree is put inside; it's branches won't end up opening up coming close to candles, electrical outlets, or fireplaces. Plus allowing the tree time to open up will help the tree look great as it will become fuller and bigger as it opens up. Be sure to cut off all netting and ropes right away when you get home.

Keep hydrated- A healthy Christmas tree is one that is properly hydrated and kept moist throughout the holiday season. You should always make sure that the tree has plenty of water in the base at all times. In addition to keeping water available for the tree to absorb, many people fill spray bottles with water to keep the tree from drying out. You should spray your tree with room temperature water at least once a day but only when the Christmas lights are off and unplugged. Spraying your tree daily will reduce the dryness, prevent excessive amounts of needles from falling off, and make the tree more resistant against fire and flames. Some people, who have humidifiers, keep them on in the room that the tree is in to keep the air from becoming dry around the tree.

Don't overload- Many fires involving Christmas trees involve electrical fires. Always follow the instructions on the lights and never connect more sets then recommended to the tree. Use a power strip if you need to connect multiple sets of lights so you don't connect too many sets to each other. Always unplug the lights completely from the wall socket when you are going out or going to sleep. Don't put your Christmas tree lights on a timer as you may end up not being around at times when it is set to be on.

Keep away from open flames- Never light candles near your Christmas tree and keep your tree away from fireplaces, stoves, and other sources of open flames. As pretty as the old fashioned lit candle holders might look on a Christmas tree; they are extremely dangerous and should not be used on your holiday tree. Instead consider the safe flame candles that only look like the real thing. In addition to avoiding open flames, keep your tree in a cool room that isn't too brightly lit. This will keep moisture on the tree from your water spraying and minimize drying out.

Keep pets and children away- A toppled Christmas tree or chewed electrical wires are major cause of holiday related fires. Keep wires out of reach and be mindful of low hanging wires and ornaments on your tree. Dogs and cats alike may try to play with or chew on wires which could lead to electrical fires and harm to both tree and pet. Children should be told to look but don't touch as Christmas trees are often filled with shiny and colorful lights and decorations; tempting small children to touch and play near the Christmas tree.

A live Christmas tree on Christmas morning with presents all around underneath and sparkling lights is a beautiful thing and a tradition for many families. Follow the above tips to keep your tree fresh, looking good, and of course safe.

*NFPA's "Home Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Fires" by John R. Hall, Jr. and Marty Aherns, October 2009
Content provided by Helium Inc. This information is provided for your convenience; it is not intended as insurance advice. The views, opinions, and advice expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not those of Homesite Group Incorporated. Please consult your insurance carrier or agent for information regarding your policy or coverages.
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