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Christmas tree fire safety reminders

Published: Dec. 21, 2015 at 9:52 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:15 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Buying and decorating a fresh Christmas tree is a tradition many families do every year.

However, Golder Ranch Fire District officials want to remind people it can potentially put them and their family's lives in danger if they do not take care of it.

"Once the tree starts to dry it out, it becomes a real fire hazard in your home," said Anne-Marie Braswell, the community relations manager for Golder Ranch Fire District. "You can tell if that tree is getting dry because frequently, you'll see needles d ropping easily."

Braswell explained Christmas trees are less likely to catch fire if they are hydrated.

"Check the water daily and don't let getting busy be a excuse," she said. "Sometimes you won't need to water it every day, but there needs to be water in that device that holds the tree up.

"This past week has been exceptionally cold for southern Arizona and so we've probably been running our heaters and fireplaces to stay warm. When we heat our home, it's going to dry out our Christmas tree, too, so we have to be aware of that."

Christmas tree fires are not common, but according to the National Fire Protection Association, one out of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Also, a heat source too close to the tree, like a candle, is common reason to blame too. December is the peak time of year for candle fires.

Braswell said it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut one to two inches from the base of the trunk
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.

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