Christmas tree safety 101

Reported by Kristy Ondo - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - While families take their time picking out their favorite Christmas tree, Wilmington firefighters hope they will find one that is healthy on the inside.

According to fire experts, about 200 trees will catch on fire in home across the country this year, but there are ways to prevent flames from sparking.

It's important to make sure the tree you like isn't dried out.  You can check by running your finger along the branch to see how many needles fall off.  If most stay in place, the tree is good to go. You can also pull off a single needle and do this test: if it bends, that's a good sign.  If it breaks, it's too dry."

After you check the needles it's important to take the next step by cutting an inch or two of the trunk so it can absorb plenty of water.  The trees can drink a gallon of water each day, so it's important to make sure to keep it wet.

When you're putting on lights, Meg Langston with the Wilmington Fire Department, warns not to hook more than three strings of lights together.

"If you're using the big bulb lights, we don't recommend more than 50 of those big screw in lights be connected at a time," said Langston.

One Wilmington resident said his family keeps a fire extinguisher in the room where their tree is and only use mini lights that don't get hot.

Progress Energy is offering the following holiday safety tips for inside the home:

  • Select trees that are fresh and do not contain dry or brown limbs. Keep the tree stand filled with water.
  • Avoid placing trees or other live greenery near heat sources, such as fireplaces, space heaters or vents.
  • Ensure that artificial trees have been tested and labeled as fire resistant.
  • Check holiday lighting packages to determine the maximum number of strands that may be linked together safely. Always follow the manufacturer's directions.
  • Inspect light strands to ensure there are no electrical problems or damage to the wiring before using.
  • Avoid connecting light sets with different numbers of bulbs as they may have different electrical requirements.
  • Don't place cords underneath rugs, furniture or other appliances. Doing so can cause cords to overheat or become frayed, possibly resulting in a fire. Also, take care when routing cords so that they do not become a tripping hazard.
  • Check all extension cords for fraying, cracks or loose connections. When in doubt, replace old extension cords.
  • Don't bunch lights too closely together. Doing so can generate excessive heat that can melt insulation and expose live wires.
  • Always turn off decorative lighting when you go to bed or leave the house. .

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