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O Christmas Tree -- and Fire Safety

By HERWriter
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Christmas trees and practicing fire safety Victosha2012/PhotoSpin

Buying a natural Christmas tree is a highlight of winter for many American families.

A tree can be a wonderful element in creating the holiday atmosphere that is associated with the holiday season, but it must be treated with respect.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, natural Christmas trees caused an average of 240 fires attended by U.S. fire departments annually from 2005 to 2009.

Some of these fires resulted in serious damage and tragedy as 13 people died and 27 were injured each year. Property damage reached $16.7 million per year.

When you're out searching for the perfect tree, take your time looking over the selection before you buy.

Make sure needles are green. They should not break easily, and should be hard to pull back from a branch.

The tree trunk should be sticky. Bouncing the trunk on the ground should not result in needles falling off.

Make a point of keeping your Christmas tree and your decorations clear of the exits to your home in the event of needing a quick getaway.

When you put up your tree, keep it away from heat sources. This doesn't just include fireplaces or woodstoves.

A heating vent can also be drying to your tree, and a dry tree is an easily-ignited tree.

Christmas decorations can brighten up your home but here too, plan for safety first. Take the time to meticulously inspect all strings of lights for any breaks, frays or cracked sockets.

If the cords are kinked or look worn, cease your decorating until you've replaced them. Go easy on your electrical outlets. Don't overload them with too many strings of lights.

Candles need to be treated with great care. Their holders must be secure and placed so there is no chance of being knocked over. Keep 12 inches of space between the candles and ... well, everything else. Don't use them in sleeping areas.

Candles used to be placed on Christmas trees but that is an old tradition that should stay relegated to the past. A lit candle on a tree is an invitation to trouble.

Make sure your decorations are nonflammable and are kept well away from any heat sources. Keep cigarettes and ashes away from your tree.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.