Invariably, a particularly fire-conscious member of your household or family asks this question every day until it's time to pack away the decorations and get working on New Year's resolutions. If you're in claims, that person may even be you.
Christmas trees and all indoor holiday foliage are fun and vibrant pieces of the season. While beautiful and nostalgic, live trees require regular care to prevent a costly and potentially deadly fire.
Are you a staunch traditionalist who absolutely loves their live tree? Follow these 5 simple steps to prevent a tree fire, keeping the holidays merry and bright, rather than burnt and crispy.
1. Water your tree EVERY DAY.
One of the most common causes of fires during the holiday season is dried-out trees. It is best to get in the habit of checking the tree water levels at least once daily. There are plenty of helpful tree watering gadgets available, but a good rule of thumb is 1 quart of water per every '' in diameter of the trunk. For example, a 7-foot tree with a 3'' trunk would require 3 quarts of water per day.
2. Inspect lights before decorating.
Both live and artificial trees are fire hazards when decorated with damaged lights. If you're like my family, you've used the same Christmas decorations for 30 years. Be sure to check any lights you intend to use on the tree for exposed wiring, burnt bulbs, or smoky odors.
3. Avoid open flames.
Your tree should never be positioned near open flames, including candles, cooking appliances, and propane heaters. When exposed to an open flame, a tree can be engulfed in seconds. Be sure to select a safe area of your home for your tree and never use lit candles as tree decorations.
4. Never leave tree lights plugged in overnight.
Leaving the tree powered on for an extended period of time, unattended, can increase the risk of a tree fire. Consider leaving a nightlight on for Santa instead.
5. When the festivities are over, it's time to move on.
Are you someone who, as a result of spirit or procrastination, leaves your decorations and tree up far too long after the New Year? Don't be that person. Over time, your tree becomes drier and drier, resulting in a tinder box for your residence. Dispose of trees in a timely and responsible manner to avoid a dangerous St. Patrick's Day.
What is the most common cause of Christmas tree fires?
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 34% of Christmas tree fires occurred due to electrical failure or malfunction of equipment, including lamps, wiring, cords, and plugs. 20% of tree fires were the result of heat sources being too close to the tree, including space heaters and fireplaces.
Read the NFPA's 2022 Christmas Tree Fires report for more information, including insights on how to lower the risk of damage from a Christmas tree fire.