The excitement of picking and trimming the tree is one of the best parts of the holiday season, but what many people don’t realize is that they can potentially be hazardous if not handled correctly. Spare yourself some pain and aggravation this year by reading up on some tips for a safe Christmas tree.
Safety starts when you select your tree. Along with the perfect height and the most picturesque shape, look for these important features: find a tree with springy, green needles that are not easy to pull back from the branches or break off; avoid those with brown or dry needles. A fresh tree is less likely to catch fire if a mishap with candles or lights occurs, and since they continue to dry out as long as they’re up, the fresher the tree is to begin with, the longer you can keep it up.
No matter how freshly cut your tree, fire safety is still essential. Keep all candles, open flames and heat sources, including radiators, a minimum of three feet away, and use only indoor lights to trim it. Make sure there are no broken bulbs or frayed wires, and always turn lights off before going to sleep. Take care not to overload outlets and extension cords.
Now that you’ve successfully gotten the tree into the house, setting it up safely is the next task. Trim the trunk by two more inches; this allows it to absorb more water, keeping it moist and fresh for a longer time. Use a good-quality, sturdy tree stand – an imbalanced tree that falls over can land on any number of things, from children and pets to open flames, not to mention breaking nearby objects.
Placement is important, too: position the tree away from doorways so as not to block exits in case of emergency. If possible, place it close to an outlet so electrical cords aren’t stretched across the room for long lengths, which poses a tripping hazard.
Sadly, there comes a time when you have to take the tree down, and it can’t stay up too long after Christmas, since it only gets drier. A good sign that you should throw it out is when the leaves start dropping; sweep the fallen needles up and throw them out – in the garbage, not in the fireplace – since they’re highly flammable.