Buying a live tree
- Natural trees should be cut at a 45 degree angle at the base and
placed in water.
- Check for freshness.
- A fresh tree is deep green in color and has a strong sent of
- The needles of a fresh tree are hard to pull from branches and
do not readily fall from the branches; moreover, the branches
should bend easily.
- The trunk of a fresh tree is also sticky with resin, and when
tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
Displaying your tree
- Trees should be securely fastened in the holder.
- Keep the tree in an area away from a radiator, fireplace, or
other heat sources.
- Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block
- Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep
the stand filled with water. Water your tree often.
- When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
- Never put tree branches in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
Decorating your tree
- Use only U-L labeled tree lights. Indoors or outside, use only
lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing
laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards.
- Do not overload outlets. Be careful how many items you plug into
a receptacle. Be careful where you lay cords and lights. For added
electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and
decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit
interrupters (GFCI's). Portable outdoor GFCI's can be purchased
where electrical supplies are sold. A qualified electrician can
permanently install GFCI's into household circuits.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked
sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out
damaged sets. Do not use damaged lights.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single
- Do not knot or tangle the wires.
- Do not leave lights on unattended. Always unplug lights before
leaving the house or going to bed.
- Use only lights designated for outdoor use, outdoors. Do not use
indoor-labeled lights outside.
- The best lights are new ones.
Outdoor Holiday Lights
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for
safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates
conformance with safety standards.
- For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric
lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault
circuit interrupters (GFCI's). Portable outdoor GFCI's can be
purchased where electrical supplies are sold. A qualified
electrician can permanently install GFCI's into household
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other
firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only
insulated staples (available at hardware stores) to hold strings
in place, not nails or tacks.
- Never use real candles on a tree or near other evergreens or
decorations. Open flames from candles often lead to fire. December
is the peak month for candle fires, with nearly twice the average
number of incidents.
- When decorating the house with candles, always use non-flammable
holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked over by
children or pets.
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a
tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded
metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
- Do not smoke near the tree or decorations.
- In homes with small children, take special care to avoid
decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small
removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child
swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that
resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
- Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored
flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that
can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if
eaten. Keep them away from children.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. It can throw off
dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that
could cause an explosion. A flash fire may result as wrappings
ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
- Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating
with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container
directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating
with artificial snow sprays.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label
"Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the
tree will not catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist
burning and should extinguish quickly.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can
become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person
touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Always follow the same safety tips listed above regarding
General Fire Safety Tips
- Keep children away from open flames and electrical receptacles.
- Make sure your smoke alarm is maintained and working properly.
- Have a smoke alarm in every level of your house.
- Keep your emergency numbers near the telephone.
- Always call the fire department for any fire, even if the fire
has been completely extinguished.
- Have a fire evacuation plan and practice it with your family!
See What Happens When a Christmas Tree Burns!