By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Communications and Disaster Services Volunteer
As popular as artificial trees are, almost everyone loves the smell of a real tree during the holiday season. But, to make sure your holiday memories are nothing but wonderful, take a couple minutes to make sure your tree doesn’t cause the unexpected.
Your lovely tree can turn deadly in just seconds
Don’t let it happen to you or your loved ones. Here are seven simple hints to keep in mind:
- Choose a fresh tree that you cut yourself, if possible. If not, shake the tree aggressively before buying and don’t select one that drops its needles while shaking. That’s a sure sign that it’s drying out already.
- If you didn’t cut the tree yourself, cut an additional two inches off the bottom of the tree to open its pores, so that it can absorb fresh water.
- Use a sturdy stand to prevent tipping, and make sure that the stand can hold an adequate amount of water to keep the tree as fresh as possible. Make a scheduled time to add water every day.
- Keep the tree at least three feet away from any ignition source, such as fireplaces, heaters, candles or high intensity lightbulbs.
- Use only UL-rated light strings on your tree and no more than the manufacturer’s recommended number of sets plugged together. Discard any lights with worn or frayed cords.
- Make sure the tree and cords do not extend into or across doorways or paths of egress.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly and always turn off any Christmas lights before going to bed each night.
Out of control in 20 seconds – you won’t believe the speed or intensity of this fire
Watch this one-minute video from the National Fire Prevention Association showing how quickly a spark or small fire can ignite your beautiful tree. In less than 20 seconds, you better be out of there. (You have discussed a family escape plan with your children haven’t you?)
As the video points out, a dry tree ignites faster than newspaper. Protect yourself this season and enjoy the happiest of holidays. If you need a smoke alarm installed in your home, visit this page to click on your county of residence to request a free home fire safety inspection and free smoke alarm installations in your home..