Christmas tree safety: Avoid a visit from the fire department

Firefighters respond to an average of 160 house fires started by Christmas trees each year. Many could be easily avoided. We give you the tips to prevent your holiday decoration from becoming a safety hazard.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Firefighters respond to an average of 160 house fires started by Christmas trees each year, and many could be easily avoided.

It starts with finding a healthy Christmas tree.

When you’re on the lot, you want to make sure the needles do NOT fall off when you touch them. Then, make sure to cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk -- that way it can drink water.

Most sellers will do that for you before you leave the lot, but you can also do it yourself at home.

Once the tree is up, water it every day and make sure it stays 3 feet from any heat source like fireplaces, candles and even heat vents.

We continue to give you more tips on keeping your holiday decoration in pristine condition, such as how to water it.

If you’re going with an artificial tree, you want to make sure it has the “Fire Resistant” label.

About one-third of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.

And check your lights because some are meant for indoor or outdoor use only.

Also replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords.

Be sure to read the instructions to see how many strands you can connect.

And even though it might be tradition, the National Fire Protection Association says you should always turn OFF the tree’s lights before going to bed.

Mel joins us live from Severts Christmas Tree Farm to see how they're managing the holiday season.

About the Author:

Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.