Ah! It’s Christmas time — when many Canadians go out, buy a dead pine tree, stick it in a container filled with water, and string several cords containing brightly-lit heat sources around it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a decorated tree with lights and tinsel and of course nothing beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree. But few things are as dangerous as a dried-out tree sitting in your living room.
Fire prevention Canada notes an increase of preventable house fires in December. There are however, a few things you can do to reduce these risks. (Thanks to CBC)
- Make sure your real tree is fresh. It will be less likely to dry out and become a fire hazard.
- Before you buy from your local Christmas tree vendor, examine the needles. Bend them between your fingers. They shouldn’t break. Tap the tree gently on a firm surface. If an excessive amount of needles fall to the ground, it’s too dry. Scotch pines tend to shed more needles than other types of Christmas trees.
- Make a fresh cut on the trunk of the tree before you place it in your tree stand. The cut will help the tree absorb water. About two centimetres from the bottom should do.
- Leave the tree outside — out of the wind and sun — until it’s ready to decorate.
- Water the tree often. The stand should hold at least four litres of water. Do not let the water level dip below the cut line. If you do, the cut will seal and the tree will stop absorbing water. Don’t let thirsty dogs drink the water either.
- Secure the tree to keep it from tipping. Many of the newer “wide base” stands offer much more stability than older stands.
- Keep tree away from floor heaters, fireplaces and other heat sources, as well as electrical outlets and electrical sources.
- Remove the tree when needles begin to fall off in large quantities. NEVER burn your tree in a fireplace. Most municipalities recycle Christmas trees, turning them into mulch.
What to look for in a Christmas tree stand:
- A very wide base. If it has legs, they should be very strong metal or a very hard plastic.
- Good screws to turn into the tree – not just plastic because plastic breaks easily – but metal screws are very important.
- A spike in the centre of the stand gives the tree something that it will actually lodge onto.
- Big enough to hold four litres of water.
Just because your tree isn’t a freshly cut pine, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. There are a few things to remember about artificial trees:
- Artificial trees should bear the CSA label. Plastic trees should be made of fire-resistant material. Keep them away from heat sources.
- Never use electric lights on metallic trees. The result could be very shocking! Use spotlights to illuminate the trees from a safe distance.
Decorating safety tips
- Use only CSA-approved Christmas tree lights. Check for frayed wires and broken sockets. Get rid of damaged sets. They can shock a person or start a fire.
- Don’t use outdoor lights on an indoor Christmas tree.
- Lights should not touch combustible materials.
- Don’t overload outlets. Never use more than three strings of lights on one circuit. Lights should not be used on trees with metal frames.
- Miniature lights are safer because they produce less heat.
- Never leave lights on when going to bed or leaving the house.
- Keep candles away from Christmas trees. Never use candles as tree decorations.
- When decorating the tree, place breakable ornaments on the higher limbs. It will protect your children and pets as well as safeguard the breakables.
- Use flame-resistant decorations. Keep small ornaments that can be swallowed away from small children and pets.
- Place tinsel higher on the tree out of reach of children and pets. If swallowed, it’s a choking hazard.
- Use non-flammable holders for candles. Keep them out of reach of children and pets. Don’t leave them lit when going to bed or leaving the house.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday from your friends at Young & Haggis!