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Extinguishing the Fire Myths

People have an irrational fear of their real Christmas trees catching fire. Real trees have gained a bad rap due to numerous years of poor education and miscommunication on how they should be properly cared for.

In reality though, Real Christmas tree fires are the first ignited source in less than 1 out of every 1000 fires – a measly one tenth of a percent. Newspapers and magazines are 13 times more likely to be the first ignited substance in any residential fire. Appliances, tools and air conditioning units are 61 times more likely to ignite a fire.

A properly maintained Christmas tree does not represent a fire hazard. Let us repeat that – a properly maintained Christmas tree does not represent a fire hazard. Christmas trees only become fire hazards once they are dry, a result of human neglect.

When selecting a tree, pick one with fresh green needles. Once you have brought it home, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk before placing in the stand. When choosing a location for the tree, make sure it is at least three feet away from any heat source – fireplaces, radiators, lamps, etc. Always make sure that your tree is always properly watered, this detail cannot be stressed enough.

When you’re decorating your tree, check the lights. Most lights are for indoor OR outdoor use, not both. This small detail matters. Never string more than 3 strands of lights together. Think smart, never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are the most common cause of holiday fires, be cautious of this even if you have a surge protector. Always remember to turn the lights off before you leave the house or go to bed in the evening. Never leave lights unattended.

When your tree starts dropping needles, it’s time to say goodbye. Check with your community to find a recycle program – dried out trees are a fire-hazard when left in the home, garage, or placed outside the home.

In November 2004 and 2007, the Michigan Christmas Tree Association had the opportunity to work with the Farmington Hills Fire Department and Brighton Hills Fire Department to educate the public on holiday fire safety. Read the recap of the demonstration and explore more fire safety options right on our website, here.

At no time can a tree start or cause a fire - Christmas trees do not spontaneously combust. Be smart and safe this holiday season. Give your tree the proper care and water it needs, avoiding any possible fire issues.

Christmas is right around the corner. Start researching Christmas tree farms near you. We suggest any one of these choose and cut famrs or retail lots.

Sources: National Fire Protection Association, National Christmas Tree Association, Smart Kids 101

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