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How to Ensure Your Christmas Tree Isn’t A Hazard

To make sure your Christmas tree brings your family joy this holiday, not risk, take a few of these extra precautions as you look for the right tree, set it up and take it down.

Buying a tree

  • If you’re buying a real tree, look for signs of high moisture content – very few needles should fall when the bottom of the trunk is tapped on the ground. Needles should bend, not break, and the trunk should be fairly sticky with resin. A freshly cut tree with high moisture content is less of a fire hazard
  • If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, be sure it bears the Canadian Standards Label (CSA) label – plastic trees should be made of fire-resistant material

Putting it up

  • The safest place to keep the Christmas tree is in the corner of a room, so walls are on either side to support it should it tip
  • Use a tree stand that has widespread legs or a wide base for better balance. A sturdy tree stand should also have metal screws that turn into the tree and a spike in the centre so the tree can lodge in properly
  • For added security, you might choose to use thin guy wires to trunks to tie trees to surrounding walls or the ceiling. These wires are almost invisible and can provide extra support for very tall trees
  • Place your tree at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as a fireplace, television, or heat vent. Nearby heat can dry out trees, causing it to be more easily ignited by flame or sparks
  • Place the tree out of the way of foot traffic in your home and do not block doorways

Decorations

  • Use only Christmas tree lights that are in good working condition. Check each set for frayed wires and damaged bulbs and get rid of damaged sets, as they can shock a person or start a fire – this goes for Christmas lights strung anywhere. Find out more about how to avoid fire hazards when decorating for the holidays
  • Never put electric lights on metallic trees, as this creates a risk of electric shock
  • Don’t overload outlets. Using more than three strings of lights on one circuit is too many. Keep in mind that extension cords are a temporary solution
  • Always unplug lights before leaving the house or going to bed
  • If you have pets, leave lights and small decorations off the lower parts of the tree. Dogs and cats may get tangled in the lights or get shocked by biting the wire, and small ornaments may be a choking hazard

Staying safe throughout the season

  • Check the water level in the stand daily to ensure the the tree is always immersed in water. If the water level drops below the trunk, the stem may reseal itself
  • If you have pets, take extra care to keep the surrounding area free of pine needles, which can puncture an animal’s insides if swallowed
  • As always, make sure your fire alarms are in good working condition. Aside from the tree, the holidays brings with it many types of fire hazards, from candles to the fireplace. Ensure every member of your family knows your household fire safety rules
  • When the tree becomes dry, discard it. A live tree can be used for a period of two weeks. After that, even the freshest tree can start to dry out. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home

Fires caused by Christmas decor can cause significant damage to the home – but many are the result of carelessness, which can easily be prevented. Take extra care this holiday to be diligent about reducing the risk of fires, and enjoy the holidays with peace of mind.

How to Ensure Your Christmas Tree Isn’t A Hazard

Christmas trees, while an integral holiday tradition for many Canadians, can actually pose a safety hazard in your home.