Defective lighting, including frayed electrical cords and plugs, and overloaded outlets, cause almost half of all Christmas tree fires. Both real trees and artificial trees pose a fire risk.
These tips for Christmas tree safety from New York’s Finest, FDNY will help keep it safe for you and your loved ones.
When choosing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
When choosing a real tree, select the freshest-looking tree available.
Select a tree that’s an appropriate size for the room. Keep in mind that trees look smaller when they are outside, and tree toppers and stands will add to the final height of the tree.
Place the tree at least three feet away from heating system air registers, fireplaces and other heat sources.
Try to position the tree near an electrical outlet to minimize the use of extension cords.
Adequately support the tree with a sturdy stand designed not to tip over.
Do not use electric lights on metallic trees. Use remote spot or reflective lights.
Do not use lighted candles or other flaming devices on your tree or near your tree.
Whenever possible, use decorations made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
Unplug tree lights when out of the room and before going to sleep.
Discard the tree immediately after the holiday.
Test for freshness by grasping a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pulling it toward you. Very few needles should come off.
Shake or bounce the tree on its stump. If an excessive number of green needles fall to the ground, the tree may not be fresh.
If you don’t plan on putting the tree up right away, make a one half inch fresh cut off the bottom of the trunk and place the tree in a five-galling bucket of warm water. Store the tree in cool temperatures but above freezing.
If the tree has been stored for more than three days, prior to putting it up, make another one inch cut off the bottom of the trunk and immediately place the tree into a stand that holds at least a half-gallon of water.
Keep the water level above the cut and check the water level daily. Initially, a fresh tree may soak up to a gallon of water a day.
No water additives are necessary. Plain tap water is best.
This was posted originally in 2016 and is updated and re-published annually.