Even the scrawniest Christmas tree can brighten up any living room. But they can pose risks, risks that can easily be mitigated with common sense. Here are a few guidelines for Christmas tree safety.
Choose and drive wisely.
At the lot, choose a tree with fresh needles that aren't shedding easily. (They should be hard to pluck.) Look for flexible needles and plenty of sap or resin in the trunk. The fresher the tree, the less likely it is to catch fire. However, resin becomes flammable as the holidays come to a close and it dries out. It's best to water the tree regularly and get rid of it as soon as the needles start to fall.
On your drive home, be mindful about getting your fresh tree from point A to point B. If you don't tie it correctly, you could damage your car or endanger other drivers. A 2019 survey by AAA showed nearly half of Americans surveyed use unsafe ways of transporting their Christmas trees from the lot to their house.
Don't leave your safety, or that of others, to chance - brush up on Christmas tree car safety before you shop.
Once you get it home, it's all about electrical and fire safety.
Your Christmas tree should never block an exit. Exits, in general, must be unobstructed to lead to safety. Add water to the Christmas tree's stand daily. If you're worried about moisture, consider a water leak detector next to the tree. The stand should be sturdy enough to withstand a little disruption from children and pets.
Though they are not common, one in four Christmas tree fires occur because of a heat source too close to the tree. When these fires do happen, they tend to be serious. Always have at least three feet between your tree and any heat source, such as a fireplace, space heater or fondue pot. Of course, never use lit candles to decorate a Christmas tree.
Use smoke detectors to catch fires right away.
Ensure that there’s a smart smoke detector in and around the rooms where anyone in your family sleeps. Test them each month, replace their batteries each year, and get new ones every decade. Purchase a fire extinguisher, and learn to use it. Year round, it’s critical to have a fire escape plan, and practice it with everyone in your household.
Because more than 25% of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems, check that your Christmas lights have been tested for safety, and toss them if they are damaged. Don’t plug more than three strings of lights into an extension cord. Keep them out of high traffic areas, and close to walls, to prevent tripping. For added personal safety, plug lights into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet that monitors the flow of electricity, cutting it off in an event where electrocution could occur.
Lights out means Christmas lights, too.
When it's time for lights out, remember to turn your Christmas tree lights off. While it's fun to imagine Santa being impressed when he reaches your living room, leaving the lights on all night drains energy and can be a safety hazard. Not only does it increase the exposure of the tree to electricity, but also means there's no one around to address issues should they occur.
For a smart plug you can use to turn holiday lights on and off, opt for a smart plug that connects to a unified smart home security system.
There you have it - the most important aspects of Christmas tree safety. Let us know your safety tips in the comments section below. Then, have a safe and happy holiday!