It’s that time of year when colorful lights adorn the exterior of homes, and trees inside of them glow with flashing orbs. If you plan to have a Christmas tree this holiday season, be sure to consider these five tips to help prevent a fire, and keep your family safe.


Tip #1. Choose the Right Lights


When investing in lights for your tree, verify that they’re fire-approved and safety tested—having an Underwriter’s Laboratory logo, UL. Also consider lights that are approved by ETL Semko, an electrical product safety tester. If you’re using your existing lights, inspect them to make sure there aren’t any connections that are loose, or any frayed portions—both could cause a fire. Power your lights using a heavy duty extension cord that’s in good working order. If you can, it’s wise to use a timer for your lights to ensure that they’re off before you turn in for the night. Turn off the lights when you’re away from home, too.


Tip #2. Pick a Fresh Tree


If you’ve ever had a live pine tree for Christmas, you know that as the holiday draws on the tree begins to dry out, brown, and drop needles. Browning, brittle needles are more likely to catch fire. So when choosing a tree it’s important to pick one that appears to be as freshly cut as possible. Look for trees that have vibrant green, flexible needles.


Tip #3. Distance Your Tree


When you erect your tree be sure to keep it a minimum of 3 feet from sources of heat, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This includes radiators, fireplaces, and vents. Christmas trees that are situated too closely to heat sources could easily start a house fire.


Tip #4. Water the Tree Regularly 


To lengthen the life of your tree you should keep it watered. If you don’t it’ll quickly dry out and become more susceptible to catching on fire. An average-sized Christmas tree can require about a gallon of water every day. So keep the tree’s basin filled with water and never let it go dry. A good way to know if your tree is sufficiently hydrated is to give it a good shake. If lots of needles drop, it needs water.


Tip #5. Don’t Light a Dead Tree


After the last carols have been sung, and the Christmas season has winded down, you may not feel like dismantling your tree right away. As it dries out and becomes increasingly brittle, you shouldn’t try to light it. When you do take it down, resist any temptation to burn branches in your fireplace.

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