Sometimes video says much more than words. The U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Agency both have amazing videos of dry Christmas trees fires. Most people probably know dry Christmas trees are a fire hazard, but it’s kind of hard to picture what that really means. Watch the videos. Literally a few seconds is all it takes for an entire Christmas tree to turn into an uncontrollable inferno.
If you are a procrastinator and haven’t decorated for Christmas yet, you might:
Skip the Christmas tree altogether. I may sound like the Grinch, but it is possible to decorate a home from stem to stern for Christmas without sacrificing a tree.
Go with a live tree. Live trees, properly cared for, will stay green and are not fire hazards. You have the added benefit of knowing a tree wasn’t cut down for your holidays.
If you have bought a Christmas tree, the key is to keep it watered at all times. This should keep it green and fire resistant through Christmas. You should check it every day to make sure it still has water. Other things to keep in mind:
• Keep the tree at least 3 feet away from heat sources like heat vents or radiators.
• Definitely no open flames near the tree (i.e., no candles, incense, lighters or matches).
• Check your Christmas light cords and make sure they are in good condition.
• Make sure your lights are designed for indoor use and have the label of an independent testing agency like UL or FM Global.
• Read the warnings that come with the Christmas lights as they typically limit how many strings of lights can be plugged together.
• Don’t overload electrical outlets.
• Unplug the lights before you go to bed or you might use an electric timer to automatically turn off the lights at a set hour in case you fall asleep without turning them out.
• Get rid of the tree before it gets to dry–when the needles start to drop, it is time to go.
Andrew Peterson is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 10 years of experience working in the environmental and occupational health field. In addition to writing, he is currently the Environment, Health and Safety Manager for a medium-sized company that has been voted one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens. He lives in California with his wife and adopted pound puppies.