Fire safety with Christmas trees

DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) - December is the leading month for home fires in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

One out of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. So, as you deck the halls this holiday season, be sure to be fire smart as well. Christmas trees, real or fake, can pose a fire hazard if you’re not careful.

“We want to make sure everyone is safe this holiday season," DeRidder Fire Chief Kenneth Harlow said. "If you have a real tree, you want to make sure to keep it watered as much as possible. It will keep it moist, because a dry Christmas tree can ignite and burn up very quickly versus a watered tree has more protection on it, within that aspect.”

Mollie Anderson, owner of Grant Christmas Tree Farm, says when searching for your perfect real tree, make sure it looks healthy; fresh, green needles that don’t fall off when touched.

“Now, if they go to a tree lot, they will want to make sure the trees they are choosing from are already in water," Anderson said. "The most important thing they can get is water.”

Anderson says the trees his business grows and sells come with two-gallon buckets that need to be changed twice daily. Watering your tree to keep it from drying out will help if the tree happens to catch on fire.

“You want to make sure you don’t put anything flammable near the tree, fake or real," Harlow said. "Candles are a source. A lot of people use candles. Please be careful with the candles and keep them away from ignitable sources. Just give yourself adequate distance between those items that produce the heat that might cause a fire within your home.”

Here are a few Christmas tree safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

Picking your tree

- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall of when touched.

Placing your tree

- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk.

- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights.

- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

- Add water daily to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting your tree

- Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.

- Replace any strings of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.

- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.

- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas

- Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.

- Check with your local community to find a recycling program.

- Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

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