In your pursuit for the perfect fir, include safety in your Christmas tree checklist

Michelle Durham
December 06, 2018 - 4:00 am
Willey Farms near Townsend, Delaware, selling Christmas trees, wreaths and roping. The business sustained massive damage during a fire in November 2018.

© Damian Giletto/The News Journal

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As you decorate your home and prepare to fill it with those you love most, experts say there is one important step in the tree-trimming and stocking-stuffing process you should not overlook: safety.

Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention for the Philadelphia Fire Department Jim Reninger advises to pick a fresh tree for Christmas.

"Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, so you want to look for a green tree with needles that are hard to break and pluck. The tree shouldn't be shedding its needles readily," he explained.

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Artificial trees — especially those that are pre-wired — should be looked at carefully to make sure the wires are not frayed or cracked. They should be labeled as fire resistant, and ensure that the plug is still in good shape.

And where you put it, Reninger said, makes all the difference.

"If you have a fire or some reason that you have to get out of the house in a hurry, we don't want the tree near the door," he added.

Retired Fire Chief Chip Lillie from Middletown Fire Company in Media said those few seconds upon exit make all the difference.

"Your Christmas tree and your decorations burn much more rapidly then they have in years past, so seconds are paramount," he said. The majority of those items are made of plastic, which is petroleum-based, allowing objects to burn faster, hotter and give off a toxic gas. 

And once your tree is completely decorated, be sure to turn it off.

"At bedtime, the lights go off," Reninger said. "Don't leave your lights on all night on the tree."

Curious how fast your tree can go up in flames? Check out this clip below.