There are many benefits to using a fake Christmas tree instead of a real one but safety is not necessarily one of the outstanding factors.  The truth is, the National Christmas Tree Association warns that even flame retardant artificial trees can be engulfed in a fire.  Christmas Trees were involved in approximately 300 fires annually from 2000 to 2004 according to the National Fire Protection Association.  These fires tragically resulted in an average of 14 deaths, 21 injuries, and $16.8 million in property damage per year.  So with this information in mind, how can we stay safe during the holiday season with our trees?

1.  Purchasing the tree

 -When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label that says it is "fire retardant."  This doesn't mean the tree won't catch fire, however, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

-When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness, meaning that the tree is green, the needles are hard to pull from the branches and when bent between your fingers do not break.  The trunk butt of a fresh tree should be sticky with resin.  When tapped on the ground the tree should not lose many needles.  Be aware that some growers may spray trees with green paint to make them look more appealing, however, if you have a pile of needles at the bottom of your tree after it is tapped on the ground please keep looking.

2.  Setting up the Tree

-Put your tree in an area away from foot traffic, out of doorways, and away from fireplaces, radiators, portable heater, heater vents, and televisions.  Don't forget to keep your furry friends and children in mind when choosing the perfect spot for your tree.

-Make sure it is stable in the stand, not wobbly, the stand is the appropriate size, and if necessary use thin guy wires to secure tall trees to walls or ceiling - the wires are almost invisible.  Also, make sure the stand can hold at least one gallon of water if using a live tree as this will be key to keeping your tree live.

-For live trees keep the stand filled with water.  Heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly.  A live tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts each day it is up.  To maximize freshness and minimize fire risk keep the tree outdoors for a few days in a bucket filled with water before bringing it indoors to decorate.  

-Make another fresh cut in the tree stump if a seal forms at the base.  A seal of dried sap will form over the cut stump in four to six hours if water drops below the base of the tree preventing it from absorbing water later when the stand is filled.

3.  Decorations

-Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections and discard any damaged sets or repair them before use.

-Use no more than three standard size sets of lights per single extension cord and only one extension cord per outlet.  

-Don't run cords under rugs, walking on them can weaken the insulation and wires can overheat.  Be careful placing cords around furniture as pinched cores can fray and short.  Again you will want to keep your furry friends and children in mind when decorating.

-Keep cords and lights away from the tree's water supply.

-Turn the lights off when you go to bed or leave the house.  Make sure bulbs are not in direct contact with ornaments.  Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.

4.  Gifts

-Never place paper wrapped or paper-bagged gifts near electrical connections and remove all wrapping from the area once the gifts are opened.

-Do not burn wrapping paper in a fireplace.  A flash fire could result as gift wrap burns very hot, causing large flames, which can ignite creosote deposits in the chimney.

5.  Disposal of the real Tree

-The longer a tree stays up the greater a fire hazard it becomes.  It is best to discard trees within one month after purchase by taking it to a tree recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.  

-Never burn Christmas trees, their branches or needles, in a fireplace or wood stove.  Firs and pines have a lot of sap, which can explode.  Needles burn like tinder, quickly, and flames can flare up out of control and send sparks flying across a room.  They can also ignite creosote deposits in the chimney and cause a fire.

-Know where your fire extinguisher is, and if you don't have one purchase one.  Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition. 

We hope you are enjoying the Christmas season and decorating, baking shopping, and family time.  Please call our office if you have any needs over the remainder of the year and we will be happy to help.  Perhaps someone has a new car on their Christmas list?......Or, maybe some jewelry to schedule?.....don't worry, we are sworn agents of Santa and cannot tell your secrets.  Call us at 724.453.1122


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