Did you know that Christmas trees account for 240 fires annually, resulting in 13 deaths, 27 injuries and more than $16.7 million in property damage according to the National Fire Protection Association?!

Take the extra time this year to keep your loved ones safe during the holidays.  Here are a few simple Christmas Tree Safety Tips we would like to share with you:
  1. When selecting a tree, make sure the needles are hard to pull out from the branches and do not break when bent.  If either of these happen, the tree is too dry and is a fire risk.
  2. When you bring your tree home:
    • Cut 2" from the bottom of the trunk immediately before putting it into its tree stand.  Even if your tree was cut fresh, by the time you get home it may have already partially or completely sealed itself with a protective layer of sap.  By making a fresh cut you are ensuring that your tree can drink water, which will prevent it from drying up and becoming a fire risk.
    • The first couple of days, check the water in the tree stand 2-3 times a day.  The tree drinks the most during those first days, possibly drinking up to a gallon of water a day!  After this time period, continue to water once a day.
    • Place your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source.
  3. When stringing those pretty lights:
    • Thoroughly check your lights before placing them on the tree.  Look for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections.
    • Use no more than 3 strings of lights per extension cord.
    • Use only 1 extension cord per outlet.
    • Turn the lights off when sleeping or when you leave the house.
  4. When to take down your tree:
    • If your needles begin to drop, it is time to dispose of your tree (usually this starts to happen after 1 month).
    • Do not burn your tree in a fireplace or woodstove.  Christmas trees have a lot of sap which tends to explode; in addition, their needles burn quickly especially when dry.  This combination tends to send sparks or embers flying, which can quickly lead to a house fire.
    • Do not leave your tree in the house or in the garage.  It should be stored outside away from the house until it can be taken to a tree recycling center or picked up by a community haul-away service. 

On a side note, be sure to check your smoke detector batteries.  You already have the ladder out to place the star on top of the tree, right?  Take an extra 20 minutes to check your detectors...it could save a life!

Protect you, your family, your pets, your home and your belongings this year...as Smokey the Bear would say, "Only YOU Can Prevent Christmas Tree Fires"!

Have a wonderful, safe Christmas!

~From your friends at Young & Associates Insurance

Home Christmas Tree and Holiday Lights, Marty Ahrens NFPA.  November 2011. 

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