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Are christmas trees a fire hazard? Tips to keep your home safe from a blaze this season

Although not particularly common, christmas tree fires more lethal than other fires, experts warn.
(iStock)

This holiday season, let the chestnuts for roasting on an open fire in place of your christmas tree.

While the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says christmas tree fires are not particularly common, “that they’re much more likely to be fatal than most other fires” as they occur.

One from each of the 32 reported christmas tree fires in a home can result in death, according to the NFPA. In comparison, only one of every 143 fires results in a death overall, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

From 2010 to 2012, 10 people died and $17 million of property damage during a fire, which started with the christmas tree, according to the NFPA.

Read on for some safety tips to prevent your evergreen of catching fire.

Placement

When figuring out where your christmas tree should stand for the holidays, keep in mind it must be at least three feet away from heat sources such as radiators, lighting or fireplaces, according to an NFPA fact sheet. Stoves, too, should be kept away from the trees.

A quarter of the christmas tree fires in homes are the result of a heat source too close to the fir, the officials said.

Christmas trees should not block entrances.

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Decorations and lighting

While the flickering candles are a favorite decoration around the holidays, they should not be placed in or near trees. Candles are that two of the five home decoration fires, the U.S. Fire Administration warns.

As for the lights, the NFPA recommends the use of those with a label of a recognized testing laboratory.” The lighting must also specify they are for indoor use if the tree is within.

Worn chords or loose lamps must also be replaced as they can be dangerous. A quarter of each christmas tree fire in a home is the result of electrical problems, according to the NFPA.

After the presents are opened, Pinestead Tree Farms in Minnesota encourages people to remove it immediately from packaging material, in particular tissue paper, from under the tree. The material can be “effectively a torch if somehow ignited.”

Make sure to turn the lights off when you are not present, experts recommend.

“Regardless of whether you’re at work or even sleeping, never leave your christmas lights out of your sight,” expert Pol Bishop said.

Tree maintenance

After you have chosen your christmas tree, cut about 2 cm from the bottom of the hull, the NFPA says. Experts also recommend buying a fresh tree, which is in the shops could be older and well on the way to dehydration.

Pinestead Tree Farms suggests that tucked away is a humidifier with the presents to prevent a tree from drying out faster.

Water should be added to the tree each day. An unwatered christmas tree a whole room in fire in less than 20 seconds, to a NFPA-video.

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Shake the tree to see if needles fall; as many do, the tree is not enough water.

As soon as the tree begins to dry, it must be discarded. Some communities may have a recycling program for unwanted trees after the holidays.

“Dried trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the house or in the garage or outside against the home,” the NFPA says.

To find out whether your tree is dry, test the needles. If they immediately snap bending of them, it is time to throw the tree away, according to Pinestead Tree Farms.

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