Christmas tree safety tips

The holiday season means many homes have trees, Christmas lights, and decorations.

Those items could pose a danger to homes if the proper safety precautions are not followed.

It is important to remember to check electrical lights and cords for rips or tears.  Shorts in electrical lights can cause tree and house fires.

The U.S. Fire Administration says one of every three Christmas tree fires start due to electrical problems.

“When you put your decorations up, you want to first inspect them.  Take a look at them as soon as you bring them out of storage,” Underwrites Laboratories Director of Consumer Safety John Drengenberg said.  “Look for broken sockets, frayed wires, broken wires…if you see any of these things don’t try to fix it, just get rid of the decorations.”

For real Christmas trees, make sure the tree is as fresh as possible so the needles do not fall off, and cut one to two inches off the base of the truck to allow the tree to absorb lots of water.

“The thing you can do to keep safe is take that tree when its in the lot run your hand along the branches.  If you end up with a handful of needles you’re going to have a tree that’s way too dry,” Drengenberg said.

Other safety tips include:

  • Make sure the tree is in an open area of a home and away near fireplaces, radiators, or space heaters.
  • Do not use lights that have frayed or broken strands.
  • Use no more that three standard–size sets of lights per extension cord.
  • Never use lighted candles on the tree.  Keep lit candles away from decorations, presents, furniture, draperies or anything that can burn.
  • Make sure an artificial tree is labeled “flame-retardant”.
  • Place the tree as close to an electrical outlet as possible so that cords are not running long distances.
  • Do not cover up cords with rugs to hide them – this increases the fire hazard.
  • Remove your tree soon after the holidays; do not leave it in the house or garage.