Choosing and caring for a problem-free Christmas tree

Holiday Safety TipsWhen it comes to real Christmas trees, the “snowflake” rule applies: no two are alike. This means that it takes a little bit of knowledge to understand how to choose the right one and how to care for it in order to make sure that it will last as long as possible and that it will remain safe throughout the holiday season.

Assistant vice president Lisa Melton of Amica Insurance said that while nothing tops the authenticity of a real Christmas tree’s feel, look, and smell, “they require extra care and attention if you want them to last safely through the holidays.”

Unfortunately, every year, Christmas trees are associated with approximately 250 fires, 26 injuries, 14 deaths, and almost $14 million in property damage every year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Melton says that this statistic explains why it is vital that people be vigilant about their proper tree care, regardless of whether it is purchased pre-cut from a retail store or holiday lot, or whether they choose their own and cut it down from a tree farm.

Some of the points that tree owners should remember for added safety include the following:

• Trees should never be positioned near a source of heat such as a fireplace, heat vent, radiator, or woodstove.
• Strings of lights should be carefully checked for loose bulbs, frayed wires, and other risks for electrical shocks or fires.
• Extension cords and electrical outlets should not be overloaded, and no more than three sets of mini lights should be connected together.
• Never leave the lights on when they cannot be monitored, such as when you have gone out or have gone to bed.
• Never use candles with flames on a Christmas tree.
• When a tree starts to lose its needles, it’s time to throw it away since that is an indicator that the tree is drying out and is becoming a fire hazard.

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