, O, Christmas Tree – Protect Your Home and Family This Holiday Season, Harrington Group IncIf you’ve been pining for the perfect tree since the moment you swallowed the last bite of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, we can’t blame you. Who doesn’t want to spruce up their home as the holiday approaches? But, if you’re going to buy a live tree fir Christmas, let’s talk about some ways to keep it safe and fire-free.

According to the NFPA, fire departments responded to about 200 home fires started with Christmas trees per year from 2011 to 2015. The fires resulted in an average of six deaths, 16 injuries, and $148 million in direct property damage each year. Though the number of tree-related home fires is low, that statistic also comes with a higher chance of death—about one in 32 home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death, as opposed to about one in every 143 total reported home fires.

A few other numbers to consider:

  • Lighting equipment or electrical distribution was involved in about 40% of all home Christmas tree fires.
  • More than a quarter (26%) of Christmas tree fires were a result of a heat source, like equipment or a candle, being too close to the tree.
  • Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
  • Most Christmas tree fires were reported in December (42%), and 37% were reported in January.
  • About a third (37%) of home Christmas tree fires started in the family room, den, or living room.

So how can you protect yourself and your family? Consider these safety tips:

  • Choose a tree that’s nice and fresh—a dried out tree is more flammable. Look for bright green needles that are not yet falling off the branches.
  • To keep your tree fresh and hydrated for as long as possible, be sure to water it every day.
  • Set your tree up at least three feet away from any heat sources.
  • You should be doing this every month anyway, but go ahead and double-check that your smoke detector works.
  • This one should be a no-brainer, but we know you hipster kids love blasts from the past and may feel inclined to channel the decorative notions of your grandparents this year, so we’re going to go ahead and put it in writing: don’t decorate your tree with candles. Ever.
  • Check the labels on your lights to make sure they’re flame-retardant and intended for indoor use only.
  • Replace your strands of lights as soon as they start to get frayed or worn.
  • Lovely as it may be to be greeted by a softly glowing tree first thing in the morning, turn those lights off before you go to bed. Also, be sure to turn off the lights any time you are going to leave the house.
  • As much as it hurts to part with the tree after December has come and gone, don’t hang on to it too long. The longer it drops needles on your living room floor, the dryer it becomes and the more of a flame-risk it poses.

We encourage you to branch out with your holiday decorating—just don’t let safety fall to the wayside as you’re doing so.

For information about where to go to find the perfect tree this season, check out www.christmastreeassociation.org.