05 Dec Christmas Tree Safety
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to Christmas trees, whether they are real or fake. It’s important to be aware of the safety hazards that Christmas trees present. Remember to keep these safety tips in mind when buying, decorating and disposing your tree this year.
Picking your Christmas Tree
Real Christmas trees can be extremely flammable. When picking a real tree, aim to pick the freshest one you can, based on how green it is and if it has that noticeable ‘Christmassy’ fragrance. One way to check the freshness is to tap the tree on the ground- if lots of needles fall out then it is likely to be older. Older trees are much drier and will catch fire much quicker. Ensure your tree is kept in a water-holding stand and aim to water this daily. Did you know a 6ft tree can drink up to 2 pints of water daily?
If you decide to go for an artificial tree, ensure it is labelled, certified and identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. It’s important to remember though, that although a fake tree may be less likely to catch fire, it’s still easy for any tree, to catch fire when overloaded with lights and electrical sockets! By following the instructions on light packaging, you can determine how many light strings you can safely connect.
Position your tree away from obvious heat sources in a room, e.g. fire or radiators, or sources of ignition such as TVs. Also ensure the tree (and presents beneath them) are not blocking an escape route.
Decorating your Christmas Tree
Check your Christmas lights carry the British Safety Standard sign. Over time, Christmas lights can deteriorate, bringing added risk of shocks, burns and fire hazards. Check the condition of the wiring, ensure there are no frayed or bare wires, or cracked/open sockets. Make sure you do not run any cables under carpets or anywhere they could get damaged, and don’t overload the sockets with plugs. Remember, bedtime means lights off! When going to bed, turn off all lights and the same goes for leaving the house!
Avoid using decorations made of tissue paper or carboard, as they burn more easily, especially when placed alongside Christmas lights, and although it may sound obvious, never use real candles on a Christmas tree. With the added fire risk at Christmas, it’s vital you check your smoke alarms regularly, and try to have spare batteries in the house, so you are not tempted to take them out of the smoke alarms!
Getting rid of your Christmas Tree
It might be tempting to keep your tree up for as long as possible, but the longer you have them, the bigger fire risk they create. In a centrally heated home, a tree could potentially be fully dried out within 2 weeks of purchase. So when the needles begin to drop off, it’s time to say goodbye until next year. Dispose of your tree properly after Christmas and do not place any of the branches or needles in the fireplace or in a wood burning stove. Why not take your tree to your local recycling centre? The trees can be chipped and used for local pathways or turned into soil. To find out how to recycle your old christmas tree, click here.
Christmas is a special time for celebration and should not end in tragedy because of the extra hazards that are present at this time of year. Have a happy and safe Christmas!