Three girlfriends decorating Christmas tree

Make Safety a Part of Your Holiday Plans

By David Beigie

Reviewed by Eric Vanasdale, Loss Control Supervisor at COUNTRY Financial


By remembering a few simple safety practices, everyone can be sure to have a safe and enjoyable time together this holiday season.

Prevent Christmas tree fires 

If including a live tree is part of your plans, be sure to buy it from a local farm. Transported trees are usually cut earlier than locally grown trees and are more likely to be dry, which makes them more prone to catching fire. Should there be no local tree farms near you, ask how long ago your tree was cut down. To determine whether a tree is parched, shake it to see if it’s in need of hydration. If green needles fall, then the tree is dry. Brown needles falling means they were likely just trapped. Either way, the “shake test” can be a good indicator of whether the tree is a potential fire hazard. Another good practice is to cut one inch off the base of the tree. This helps water move more easily through the trunk and keeps your tree green. Many tree vendors will do this for you. Once you’ve picked your tree, make sure you check the water level daily. A six-foot tree should use a gallon of water every two days. Also, remember to place your tree away from heat sources such as indoor heaters or open flames that could dry the tree out or cause a fire.

Inspect your lights 

When decking the halls, keep indoor lights, lighted decorations, and extension cords inside the house. In many cases, these are not created for outdoor use. Whether you’re purchasing decorations for a live or artificial tree, only buy materials with a “fire resistant” label.

Synchronizing your outdoor lights to a holiday soundtrack to be the envy of the neighborhood? That’s wonderful, but be sure to use only outdoor approved lights, lighted decorations, and extension cords. Of course, make sure to check all cords, lights, and lighted decorations for frays, loose connections, or damaged plugs. Finally, always unplug or turn off all decorations that use electricity before leaving the house or going to bed.

Candles, lighters, and matches all help make the season bright, but they can also pose fire hazards. Keep candle wicks trimmed to 1/8 of an inch and keep all open flames away from trees, other evergreens, curtains, and other flammable surfaces. Today, you can also buy simulated candles that set the mood with a realistic glow while keeping things safe.

Protect your gifts 

Finally, for gift giving, remember to keep giftwrapped packages out of sight of your home’s windows and doors. Don’t leave boxes for big-ticket items out on the street.  Instead, put them in black trash bags and don’t run them to the curb until trash day.  This way, would-be thieves won’t see what new gadgets you unwrapped.

By remembering a few key safety suggestions for displaying your tree, handling decorating and storage of gift-related items, you, and those you care about, can ensure you’re truly staying safe and sound this holiday season. 


Updated 11-14-23

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