One of the biggest fire hazards at this time of the year is something that families all across the country welcome into their home on an annual basis: the Christmas tree. While having a fresh tree as opposed to a plastic one can certainly make your Christmas celebration feel more festive, it’s important to realize that there are dangers associated with the tree that you can’t ignore. Those dangers are explored in detail in a new report offering safety tips from the chairman of the Fire Safety Commission of the state of New Jersey.
Safety begins with picking out the right tree for your residence. You don’t want a tree that’s going to dry out long before Christmas even gets here. Instead, be on the lookout for a tree that is as fresh as it could possibly be. Run your hand down the tree so you can feel its needles: do they come off in your hand? Are they hard to the touch? If so, you may want to look elsewhere.
Once you finally have the tree you want, you have to set it up in the right manner. Instead of habitually putting the tree in the same spot every day, really take a look at the tree’s surroundings. A tree should be clear on the other side of the room from the fireplace. It also needs to be kept away from space heaters, lamps, and anything else that could quickly dry out a tree and even cause it to be set ablaze.
This week is really about as early as you want to put up a tree, as anymore than that and you’ll run afoul of the two-week window in which a cut-down tree loses its freshness and begins to become dry and brittle. You can help keep it fresh as long as possible by taking the time to water it on a regular basis, refilling whenever the stand has become depleted. At some point, though, it will become too dry, so if you’re erecting the tree this week, you shouldn’t let it linger too long after Christmas.
All lights placed on the tree should have the approval of Underwriters Laboratories (as denoted by the UL symbol) so that you can be sure the lights themselves don’t pose a fire risk. Frays or damage should prompt you to refrain from hanging the lights on the tree, and broken bulbs need to be replaced prior to usage. Keep the number of strands plugged into any one outlet to a minimum (absolutely no more than three) so that overloading and attendant sparks aren’t possible.
Finally, when it comes time to get rid of the tree, discard it in the appropriate venue. Look up what kinds of programs your neighborhood has put together for disposal.