These days, Christmas is all about excess: lots of gifts, plenty of cookies, and in many cases, over-the-top Christmas trees with all the trimmings. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 28 million Americans purchase a live tree each December. Meanwhile, the National Fire Protection Association reports that 210 home fires a year start with those holly, jolly trees. This year, it wouldn’t hurt to check out these safety tips before you string the lights, hang the garland and break out the eggnog.
1. Give the Extension Cord a Break
The ideal position for the tree is close to an outlet. But if that would mean forgoing the annual picture window placement, at least try to avoid placing the cord under rugs where, if damaged, it would go undetected. Instead, run it along the base of the wall, so that it won’t be walked on.
2. Use LEDs or Mini Lights
Those cute, semi-oval-shaped incandescent Christmas lights that you grew up with are known in the bulb business as C-7s and are rated at 5 watts each. By comparison, the cheerful little mini light is a 2.5-watt device. Even more energy efficient are LEDs, which operate at a cool-to-the-touch temperature. This means electric bill savings and helps reduce needle drop—in turn, resulting in less vacuuming around the tree.
3. Flip the Switch
The tree does look pretty all lit up, but if everyone’s asleep or no one is home, what’s the point? Unplug or turn off lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
4. Keep the Evergreen Moist and Cool
As soon as you can, cut a 1⁄2-in.-thick disk from the tree’s base to expose fresh wood, then place the tree in water. Don’t bother boring a hole in the base to increase water uptake, says the National Christmas Tree Association. And for obvious reasons, keep the tree away from heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces.
5. Green Your Tree
No sense in letting a good tree go to waste. Lots of towns have tree chipping programs, so bring your evergreen to the tree dump and get the new year off to a good start.