The biggest concern for a holiday shopper when choosing a Christmas tree might possibly be the decision between a real or artificial tree. Although both have benefits, both also have safety hazards. The following tips should help determine the Christmas tree safety hazards and hopefully result in a safe holiday season.

Real Tree

Pick the right tree
The safest option when in terms of fire hazards is actually purchasing a living tree and cutting it down. If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in an especially spruce filled area or don’t feel like a lumberjack however, there are alternatives. If you purchase a pre-cut tree you want to be sure that it is still healthy and alive. Check the trunk for stickiness and the limbs for flexibility. If they break off easily that is not a good sign. The needles should also not break off too easily. Test it by lifting the tree and tapping the trunk on the ground, if a lot of needles fall off, it’s not fresh.

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    Keep it fresh
    Once you have made the perfect selection and get that beautiful tree home, cut off the bottom of the trunk about two inches. This will expose the freshest meat of the trunk which will be good for soaking up water. If you forget this step, your tree may not soak up the water. Make sure the water in your tree stand stays above the bottom of the trunk. Once the trunk is soaking in water, there should be no reason to refill the stand. Properly hydrating your tree is one of the most important parts of preventing Christmas tree fires.

    Artificial Tree

    There are many benefits to using a fake Christmas tree instead of a real one but safety is not one of them. First and formost, acquiring an artificial tree stand is important for maintaining safety. Although people may think an artificial tree is safer, according to the National Fire Protection Association, “overloaded electric outlets and faulty wires are the most common causes of holiday fires in residences – these types of fires can be just as dangerous with an artificial tree.” In fact, the National Christmas Tree Association warns that even flame retardant artificial trees can be engulfed in a fire.

    The safest fire prevention method for an artificial tree is carefully following the instructions on Christmas tree light packaging to determine the proper amount to plug into an outlet.

    Pre-lit Trees
    Prior to 2014 pre-lit Christmas trees were limited to safety evaluations of trees less than 30 inches in height. With increased popularity, UL Standard for Safety for Seasonal Holiday and Decorative Products adjusted the safety requirements to address the increased fire risk. The risks of electrical issues with pre-lit trees are hard to avoid but individuals can take precautions measures just in case. By placing the pre-lit Christmas tree in a well-ventilated area, the risk of a potential fire spreading to more flammable objects is slightly reduced. Although this does not completely eliminate the possibility of a hazard, the smallest precaution measures can save a life.