Preventing a Christmas Tree disaster

  • Published
  • By Patrick Hansen, 75th Air Base Wing Safety Office

HILL AIR FORCE BASE – A Christmas tree fire is an all-too-common Christmas tragedy. The combination of a flammable tree and electric lights can be explosive and even deadly. One solution is to invest in an artificial Christmas tree, but many people still cling to using the traditional live tree. To ensure that you always have a safe and merry Christmas, heed these tips from the National Christmas Tree Association.

• Check the tree for freshness. When shopping at the tree lot, grasp tree branches about six inches from the tip. Slide your hand toward the tip and check for falling branches. The needles on the outer branches should not fall easily.

• Pick a tree up and hold it about a foot above the ground. Now tap the stump of the tree on the ground and check for needle loss.

• Check the fragrance and color of the tree. The fresh tree should be a deep green and should give off an evergreen fragrance.

• At home, stand the tree alone and let the limbs settle into place. Tree sap naturally seals the stump of a cut tree so the tree cannot take up water through the stump end. At the base of the tree, make a fresh cut about ¼ inch above the old cut so water can enter the tree fibers.

• Check the needles often to see if they are drying out or if there is excessive needle loss. Check the water level regularly.

• Position the tree away from heat sources such as a heater or fireplace.

• Check tree lights to be sure wire insulation is unbroken and bulbs are tight. Unplug the tree lights when you go out or retire for the night.

• Dried evergreen trees burn with explosive force. Limit the time a tree is up. Plan to put the tree up no more than two weeks before Christmas and take the tree down as soon as Christmas is over.

As a safety office our job is not to stop you from doing something but to help you do it safely. Call 777-SAFE if you have questions or require assistance this holiday season.