Christmas tree safety tips: Ensuring a safe and festive holiday season

November 24, 2023

The San Jose Fire Department has recently emphasized the importance of Christmas tree safety, providing vital guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Christmas trees, while a festive addition to holiday decor, can pose significant fire hazards if not properly selected, set up, cared for, and eventually disposed of.

Here’s a comprehensive look at how to safely enjoy your Christmas tree this season.

Selecting the right Christmas tree

When choosing a Christmas tree, there are specific characteristics to look for in both artificial and live trees.

For artificial trees, it’s crucial to select one with a fireproof coating, indicated by a “Fire Resistant” label.

This coating does not make the tree fireproof, but it does help resist burning and aids in quick extinguishment.

If opting for a pre-lit tree, ensure it has not been recalled due to safety issues like exposed wiring.

For live trees, freshness is key.

Fresh trees are green and have firm needles that are hard to pull from branches and don’t break easily.

The trunk butt should be sticky with resin, and one should be cautious of trees with a greenish cast on their trunks and branches, as they may be painted to appear fresher.

Setting up your Christmas tree safely

The setup and care of your Christmas tree greatly impact its longevity, beauty, and safety.

To set up your tree:

  • Cut two inches off the trunk at a 45° angle for better water absorption.
  • Keep the tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, and candles.
  • Position the tree out of traffic and not blocking exits or doorways.
  • Ensure the tree is watered daily and stands securely.

Lighting your Christmas tree

Lighting is a critical aspect, as nearly a third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.

To safely light your tree:

  • Use lights listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Avoid using lit candles as decorations.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets.
  • Regularly inspect lights for damages and turn them off before leaving home or going to bed.

Disposing of your Christmas tree

Proper disposal of your Christmas tree is essential as dried-out trees become a significant fire hazard.

Dispose of the tree within one month of purchase or when it begins to drop needles.

Never burn Christmas trees in a fireplace or wood stove due to the risk of exploding sap and quick, fierce needle fires.

FSJA Comment

The San Jose Fire Department’s comprehensive Christmas tree safety tips serve as a critical reminder of the importance of fire safety during the festive season.

By following these guidelines, families can significantly reduce the risk of fire hazards associated with Christmas trees.

This emphasis on safety is not just about preventing potential disasters; it’s about ensuring that the joy and warmth of the holiday season are not marred by preventable accidents.

The detailed and practical advice provided by the department reflects a deep understanding of the risks and the necessary precautions, making it an invaluable resource for a safe holiday season.

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