As I sit here looking at our artificial Christmas tree, with white lights and ornaments that date back to the start of our family, I know that there are many that will adorn live trees in their homes. I have written on this subject in year’s past, but I think that it needs to be at the forefront of our thinking, to prevent the devastation of a home destroyed and someone killed because of a real tree. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the smell of a fresh new tree in our home at Christmas.
First and foremost, you need to purchase or acquire a tree that will remain fresh through Christmas. In other words, there should not be large amounts of needles falling from the tree when you buy it. You get the tree home, and bring it into your house. You must now keep it well watered, to slow the dying/drying process for as long as possible. Keep in mind that the lights that you use on your tree could contribute to the drying process due to the heat given off by larger lights.
Lights can also be a problem because of the electrical aspect. I have told you before that anytime you notice an electrical problem, you must de-energize or unplug the item and repair or replace it. You should check your lights before putting them on the tree. Another danger with lights is when lights are piggybacked on other lights; there is a potential for an overloaded outlet or circuit.
The dryer the tree becomes, the more flammable it becomes. A very dry tree will act like gasoline. Imagine a miniature forest fire in your home, except the tree will burn hot enough to get furnishings, curtains and other things to their ignition temperature. You must think about the packages that you place under the tree. Packages must be kept three-feet from every heat source, including the heat sources on the tree.
So let’s switch gears and continue down the path of necessities when bringing a real tree into your home. You must ensure that there are adequate numbers of properly operating smoke alarms in your home. I am not saying that you should install additional alarms because of the tree, but you need to test your alarms. You have just brought an additional fuel/heat source into your home.
If you have a real tree, it is important to properly place it. Putting a live tree near your stairwell would not be advised. If you live in a two-story home and your live tree is downstairs, then you must have a practiced escape plan that does not include being able to leave via the first floor. In other words, you must have a plan for exiting from a second floor window. I remember a family that had to use an extension cord for a second floor escape due to a Christmas tree fire on the first floor. Fortunately, the extension cord did not break. What is your plan for escape if a fire cuts off your stairwell to the first floor?
The chances are that you will have a fire-free Christmas, but if you bring a real tree into your house, then you must monitor the dryness of the tree. When needles start falling to the floor, the drying process is occurring. Excessive needles falling may dictate that you remove the tree from the house, no matter when this occurs. Bottom line, do everything possible to keep your tree as fresh as possible, and never let your guard down. One Christmas tree fire that destroys a home and hurts or kills someone is one too many. Please, please, please be careful and have a safe and blessed Christmas.