Christmas Tree Safety
By: Mike Stiles - Friday, December 7, 2018

(photo courtesy of Better Homes And Gardens)

(UNDATED) – Whether you have a real or artificial one, Christmas tree safety is an important part of the holiday season.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2012 and 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 170 home fires per year that started with Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of 4 deaths, 15 injuries and $12 million in direct property damage.

Jim Cook, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator with the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency, says while Christmas tree fires are not very common, they do happen and are likely to be serious.

With that in mind, the CHA offers a few tips to keep you and your family safe.

If you pick a real Christmas tree, make sure it has fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Also, make sure that you add water to the tree stand every day.

Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source and that it is not blocking an exit. Use only lights that are for indoor use and have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree and always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

If you use a real tree, get rid of it after Christmas. Dried out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Also, bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.