Christmas tree safety tips - Kentucky Farm Bureau

Christmas tree safety tips

Avoid a tree tragedy this holiday season! Christmas trees annually cause millions of dollars in property damage.

Christmas tree safety tips blog
Try to avoid using sharp or breakable objects as ornaments – but if you do, place them high on the tree, out of reach for youngsters. | Photo credit: Adobe Stock

O, Christmas tree!  For many, the luminance of a lush evergreen adorned in twinkling multi-colored lights is a timeless tradition. But did you know that this holiday staple is often a home hazard? Read on for a few hints to help you avoid a tree tragedy in your living room this season:     

There’s nothing quite like that fresh fir scent filling your home around the holidays. While there’s certainly something magical about decorating a live tree, they do require a little extra upkeep. Did you know a dry tree can catch fire and burn faster than newspaper?

From 2016 to 2020, Christmas trees caused an average of 160 home fires, resulting in an average of two deaths, 11 injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage annually, according to the most recent report available from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Heated rooms rapidly dry out live trees, so it’s imperative to keep them fresh and well-watered. Monitor water levels daily, and keep the tree stand filled with water.   

Need some quick ways to test the freshness of your tree? A fresh tree is green, the bottom of the trunk is sticky with resin, and needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers.   

After the holiday is over, get rid of your tree! Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home, garage or even on the property. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.   

Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles or heat vents. In 25% of Christmas tree fires, a heat source was too close to the tree, according to the NFPA. If possible, it is also advisable to anchor your tree to keep it from tipping over.

Try to avoid using sharp or breakable objects as ornaments – but if you do, place them high on the tree, out of reach for youngsters. Decorative, liquid-filled “bubble lights” contain methylene chloride, which can be poisonous if a child drinks the fluid from more than one light (even if labeled nontoxic). In addition, snow sprays contain acetone or methylene chloride. These solvents can be harmful when inhaled. Once the snow spray is dried, it is not dangerous.

Many aspects of a live tree can also be toxic to pets. Preservatives, pesticides, and fertilizers from the tree farm often seep into the water. Use a covered tree stand to be safe! Homemade salt-dough ornaments can additionally be a tempting treat both two- and four-legged members of your home, but can cause life threatening imbalances in pets. Holly and mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal issues and even cardiovascular problems when ingested, and various lilies that are often found in holiday bouquets can cause kidney failure in cats. Keep in mind that garland and lights pose a strangulation risk – especially for cats who may view this shiny décor as a toy. 

Electrical distribution or lighting equipment is involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires. To help keep your tree fire-free, be sure to use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory and rated for indoor use. Check new and used lights for broken cords, frayed wiring or loose connections before plugging them in, and always turn off the tree’s lights before going to bed!

So when it comes to holiday safety, make your list, check it twice and enjoy a disaster-free holiday season!


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