As we near the end of 2020 many are turning to real Christmas trees to find a glimmer of joy while celebrating the holiday season amid the pandemic.
According to a survey by the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, consumers nationwide are more likely to appreciate “simple pleasures” and focus on creating new traditions this year. Among these new traditions are real Christmas trees — 39 percent say they’re more likely to buy a real Christmas tree this year because of the pandemic.
But if you don’t take the necessary precautions, your real Christmas tree — as well as your family’s memories — could go up in flames.
Between 2014 and 2018, the most recent data available through the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 160 Christmas tree fires each year. These fires caused two deaths, more than a dozen injuries and more than $10 million in direct property damage.
Trees can become fully engulfed in a matter of seconds, then ignite everything in the path of the flames. By comparison, an electrical fire sparked for a demonstration on a well-watered tree didn’t spread at all.
You can prevent Christmas tree fires by taking a few extra safety precautions.
- When selecting your tree, choose one with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source, including 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.
- Use lights that are labeled by a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for how many light strands you can connect.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
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