Christmas trees can be a fire hazard - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Christmas trees can be a fire hazard

December 7, 2005

Lowndes County - It's the classic symbol of Christmas, but with a quick flick of a lighter, it turns into your worst holiday nightmare.

"It will burn very rapidly," said Lowndes Fire Chief Jim Fielding.

In less than a minute, even a live Christmas tree was completely consumed by smoke and flames. The Lowndes County Fire Department put on the demonstration to show how big of a fire hazard a tree can be if its not taken care of. "We don't want any runs on Christmas, we don't want anyone's Christmas spoiled," said Fielding.

A dry, dying tree burns much faster than a fresh and healthy one. So Fielding says the best way to minimize the risk of fire is to give your tree plenty of water. "A tree of any size will drink over a quart of water a day to keep itself alive," said Fielding.

And make sure the trunk has a fresh, clean cut so it can absorb that water. "You'd need to get rid of all this knarled bark here and cut it straight across where the new bark starts," said Fielding.

Now comes the lights. Fielding suggests using small bulbs.  "This creates a whole lot more heat than these little bulbs, so you want to make sure you use low voltage, low wattage bulbs," said Fielding.

And check the wiring of the lights each year. "Somebody had a problem with this wire and taped it up, that is very much a fire hazard," said Fielding.

If you're using garland or tinsel on your tree, make sure its not touching any of the lights. "Tinsel is made of aluminum foil and will conduct electricity and then you've got a shock hazard," said Fielding.

Live trees can pose a threat, but using a little extra caution and care with yours will make this Christmas a safe and merry one.

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