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Avoid holiday hazards by keeping tabs on your Christmas tree

Christmas tree fire demonstration (Florida Department of Financial Services)
Christmas tree fire demonstration (Florida Department of Financial Services)

The countdown to Christmas is on, but as you race to get everything done, make sure you’re not neglecting your Christmas tree.

Between 2013 and 2017, U.S. fire departments handled an average of 160 house fires a year related to Christmas trees, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

That’s why this holiday season Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is warning Floridians of the hazards associated with Christmas trees by sharing these four safety tips:

  • Water your Christmas tree. A dry tree can lead to disaster; make sure you keep water in your tree stand daily.
  • Always turn the tree lights off. Tree fires don't start on their own. Be sure to turn off lights or unplug them before going to bed or leaving your home. It is important to use lights that are approved by a national testing organization.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree. A dry Christmas tree paired with a lit candle can lead to devastation.
  • Replace and repair damaged lights. If a string of lights has broken, worn cords or loose bulb connections, be sure to replace them. Carefully read all the manufacturer’s instructions before using.

“Keeping a dry Christmas tree is like inviting a forest fire into your home," Patronis said. "Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in more than 44 percent of home Christmas tree fires. Be sure to water your tree often and always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving your home or going to bed. Following a few important fire safety tips can help you and your family avoid holiday disasters.”

Click here to watch a Christmas tree burn by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to see just how fast a Christmas tree can burn.