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Newtown Fire Marshal Offers Christmas Tree Safety Tips

A live Christmas tree can really spruce up your holiday home, but, say Stratford fire officials, it can also pose safety issues. Fire Marshal Bill Halstead Sr. has some tips for enjoying your greenery safely.
A live Christmas tree can really spruce up your holiday home, but, say Stratford fire officials, it can also pose safety issues. Fire Marshal Bill Halstead Sr. has some tips for enjoying your greenery safely. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

NEWTOWN, CONN. – If you have a real Christmas tree or other holiday greens in your home, Newtown fire officials have some safety tips for you.

Bill Halstead Sr., the town’s fire marshal, issued the following advice:

  • Tree stands: Before natural trees are set up, the trunk should be sawed off above the original cut, set in a stand and tap water added. This initial fresh cut opens up the sap channels in the tree so that it can take up water. Keep your tree stand water level above the cut in the trunk to prevent the tree from forming a sap seal. A sap-sealed tree trunk will not draw water which is needed for it to remain fresh. All trees should be held upright in sturdy stands with bases that are broad enough to effectively support the tree. Guy wires may be needed to steady over-sized trees.
  • Natural trees: Natural trees with their root balls intact should be moistened daily and cut natural trees should be placed in containers of water sufficient to provide at least a one-day supply. A container holding at least 1 quart per inch in stem diameter is recommended.
  • Water supply: Natural trees should remain indoors only for as long a period of time as they are fresh. Cut trees are thirsty! Depending on tree size, they may use from two pints to one and one half gallons or more per day -- so make sure to check the water level daily and supply fresh water as needed. Remove any tree that shows evidence of drying or severe shedding.
  • Sources of heat: All trees and decorations should be located a safe distance from sources of heat such as heaters, fireplaces, stoves, television sets, candles and the like. You should NEVER decorate your tree with real candles.
  • Electrical outlets: Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are a common cause of holiday-related accidents. Worn-out electrical cords and plugs should be replaced. Avoid too many plugs in one outlet. Use multi-outlet power strips when running many applications or decorative light screens.
  • Test lighting: All sources of electric lighting, both direct and indirect, should be in good condition and consist of equipment that has been tested and labeled or listed for the specific purpose by a recognized testing laboratory. All lighting should be turned off or better yet, disconnected, when the area is unattended.

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