Whether you’re buying a live tree this year or using a fake one, a Christmas tree can create an extra hazard for your household. Follow these tips to celebrate safely:

Tips for Buying the Right Tree:
    • Pass on any tree with dry, breaking needles or needles turning brown. If the needles can snap in your finger, they’re too dry.
    • Before buying, check the tree for other signs of freshness. The tree trunk should be sticky and the branches should be flexible when bent.
    • For ultimate safety (and holiday tradition), go in search of a living tree that you can cut (or save the roots to plant again). Those will have the most water and be least flammable. For example Merry Christmas Tree Farm, located only 30 miles from Memphis, offers fresh trees, free hayrides and help with chopping.
Tips for Setting Up the Tree (whether fake or fresh):
    • Make sure the stand is sturdy.
    • Prepare the house by checking your smoke detectors and making sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby.
    • For live trees, cut an additional 2 inches off the bottom of the trunk to make it even more receptive to water.
    • Place the tree close to the electrical plug you’re using for lights. Don’t leave cords in places where people could trip.
    • Make sure you position the tree at least three feet away from any heat – yes even candles (that includes the furnace, fireplace, stove, etc).
Tips for Lighting the Tree (fake or fresh):
    • Never light the tree with candles.
    • Check the lights for any signs of wear. Replace old light strings before decorating. Light strings generally have a safety life of 3 years.
    • Only use lights created for indoor use. Outdoor lights may overheat.
    • Unplug the lights completely before going to bed or leaving the house.


Tips for Taking Care of Fresh Trees:


    • The salesperson will probably tell you this, but it can’t be stressed enough: WATER YOUR TREE! The best way to keep your tree inflammable is to put water in the stand all the time. You can also buy hydrating pumps to help keep it full. Whatever method you choose, just make sure the water stays well above the bottom of your tree’s trunk.
    • Throw your tree out after Christmas. The longer it sits, the more dry and dangerous it will get.
    • Don’t burn your tree. Burning Christmas trees can cause house and chimney fires faster than you’d ever expect.
    • Make the most of your tree by recycling it: Shelby County offered Christmas tree recycling at the Agricenter last year. They planned to create mulch from the trees and wreaths they received, which they could donate throughout the year. Plans are still in the works for something similar this year.**Update 12/5/2011** Shelby County Public Works will start collecting recycled Christmas trees on the 21st of December. According to their office, you can call the Agricenter to set it up at (901) 757-7777.

Regardless of how you choose it, decorate it and enjoy its presence in your home, here’s wishing you and your family the perfect Christmas tree.