Fire safety tips: Dry Christmas trees can quickly become a holiday hazard

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Christmas trees are a beautiful sign of the holidays inside your home, but if you chose to have a living tree, it can also be destructive.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the country responded to about 200 house fires between 2011 and 2015. The cause was from Christmas trees. Those fires caused about six deaths each year, 16 civilian injuries, and about $14.8 million in property damage. Four out of every five Christmas tree fires occur during the holidays in December and January.

On Thursday morning, Bay Area fire agencies planned to demonstrate all the hazards that come with the holidays, including Christmas trees. When it comes to protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your home, the NFPA offered the following safety tips:

Picking the tree: 
Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree:
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk. 
Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. 
Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit. 
Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree:
Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use. 
Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect. 
Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. 
Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. 
Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. 
Check with your local community to find a recycling program. 
Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer

For more information, you can head to the NFPA website for additional tips