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A Christmas tree is a non-negotiable tradition for many families during the holidays. But even those who look forward to those twinkling lights and strings of popcorn may have a small child or mischievous cat that makes having a tree difficult and sometimes even dangerous.

 

Around 200 home fires are caused by Christmas trees each year, some resulting in serious injury or death. If you think you're off the hook because you're using an artificial tree, think again. Even "fire-resistant" artificial trees can catch on fire if the temperature is too extreme. Read on find out which type of tree is right for you and how to enjoy it safely, whichever you decide.

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Choose wisely: If you decide to go fresh, pick a tree with flexible and fragrant not dry and brittle needles. Shake the tree and make sure it doesn't lose too many needles, and examine its bark and branches for pests and insects. Last but not least, measure carefully to ensure the tree fits properly in your home.

Set it up right: Your tree should be at least three feet from any heat source, including fireplaces, vents, radiators, and other light fixtures. Make sure it is secured well and not in the way of traffic. Before erecting your tree, saw about an inch off the bottom the same way you would with fresh-cut flowers to ensure maximum hydration.

Light safely: Faulty wiring from Christmas lights is one of the primary causes of holiday tree fires. Make sure your twinkling lights are working properly and meant for indoor use, don't overload your outlets, and if you must have candles for your tree, make them electric.

Water often: When the tree is coming down after Christmas, it may not seem that important to keep it well watered. But having a hydrated tree will make all the difference in the event of fire. Watch this shocking video to see how much worse a fire could potentially be if your tree is dry and brittle. If you plan to keep your tree up for a while, don't forget to water in the New Year - almost as many Christmas tree fires occur in January as in December.

Which tree is best? Fake vs. Real

Most people who have answered this question for themselves think this choice is a no-brainer. But for those who are still on the fence, there are plenty of pros and cons to consider.

If your priority is minimum cost and maximum convenience, a fake Christmas tree may be the best way to go, especially since fake trees don't look all that "fake" anymore. Purchase a quality artificial Christmas tree once and you will be set for many years.

From another perspective, though, an artificial tree is not so efficient. Most environmentally-minded groups advocate real over fake trees because they benefit local farmers (the great majority of trees nowadays come from farms and not forests), are 100 percent recyclable, and don't contain potentially harmful plastics or chemicals.

It's also a myth that artificial trees are definitively safer. Since most holiday fires are started by overloaded electrical outlets, both types of trees are equally likely to catch fire. Even "flame resistant" artificial trees have been known to ignite at high enough temperatures, and unlike real trees, they emit harmful toxins while burning.

Bottom line: Unless your wallet prevents you from buying a new tree every year, a fresh Christmas tree is the superior option. But if you exercise care and caution when setting up and maintaining your tree, it's possible to have a safe holiday season whatever your choice.

For more information on your home insurance, call Verne Hart Insurance at 740-387-0643!

Posted 10:38 AM  View Comments

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