Decorating the Christmas tree is an annual tradition for many and probably something your family looks forward to each year. However, the beautiful ornaments, the twinkling lights, and even the tree itself can all be safety hazards - especially with children and pets in the household. According to the latest statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, one of every 18 reported fires that resulted in death began with a Christmas tree fire.
Reduce the risk of household accidents this holiday season with these Christmas tree safety tips:
Pick and Maintain a Healthy Tree
If you are putting up a fresh tree this season, make sure you're choosing one that is freshly cut and hasn't dried out. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends choosing a tree with green needles that aren't falling of easily - if they break off easily, the tree has been cut too long and will dry out fairly quickly. Dry trees are fire hazards, so make sure you're watering your tree regularly to keep it as moist as possible.
Choose the Right Location
The National Fire Protection Association reports one of every five fires, or 20 percent of household fires over the holidays, were a result of a heat source that was too close to the Christmas tree. Be mindful about any heated appliances and heaters you have around your living space so that the tree is as far away from these heat sources as possible.
Check the Lights
If you're recycling last year's lights and other electric-powered decorations, make sure you're not working with any broken or cracked sockets, bare wires, or damaged bulbs. You'll need to check each bulb on a string of lights to make sure it's secured to the socket. Faulty lights and bare wires can cause sparks that start a fire or electrocute somebody who comes in contact with it. Make sure you're not purchasing lights or pre-lit trees that have made the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall list.
Pick Flame-Resistant Decorations
Don't trim the tree with decorations that aren't flame-resistant by nature. This includes handmade felt decorations or decorations made with soft fabrics and other flammable materials. These are best reserved for trees without any electric lights, such as bare wood tabletop trees or for decorating wreaths. Stick with tinsel, plastic décor, and non-leaded materials that won't pose any safety hazards.
Keep Christmas Tree Decorations Out of Reach
When you know pets and small children may be playing around the Christmas tree, make sure you're keeping all wires, ornaments, and other décor out of paws' and arms' reach. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) points out that shards of glass from broken ornaments and wires hanging off a tree are both safety hazards for pets. Stick with a tabletop tree this season, prop the tree up high enough in a secure stand, or set up a small gate around the tree to prevent kids and pets from coming in contact with the décor.