Don’t Let an Unsafe Christmas Tree Light Up Your Holiday the Wrong Way

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Decorating homes is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Each year, approximately 400 fires involving decorated trees and holiday lights result in approximately 20 deaths and $25 million in direct property damage nationwide.

Watch this video to see how quickly a Christmas tree can catch fire. Then, keep reading for holiday safety tips from the Long Beach Fire Department. 

Help ensure that you have a safe holiday season by following these helpful tips:

Start by selecting a fresh Christmas tree

  • Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut.
  • The trunk should be sticky to the touch.
  • Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard

If you choose an artificial tree, make sure any metallic or artificial tree is flame retardant..

Caring for your Christmas tree at home

  • Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent.
  • Do not drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
  • Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up longer than two weeks.
  • Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Lighting and Decorating Your Tree Safely

Remember to inspect your holiday lights each year. Look for frayed wires and other signs of wear and tear. Only use lights that have been designated for inside tree use and listed by an approved testing laboratory. Do not use excessive lighting – usually 3 strands is the maximum amount that can be linked – consult the lights packaging for details.

Additional safety tips for tree decorations:

  • Never leave lights on unattended.
  • Use only non-flammable decorations.
  • Never use real candles on a tree.

How to Dispose of your Christmas Tree

For information about free tree pick-up service, or drop-off locations, visit

  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.

Even with the best intentions, accidents can happen. Make certain you have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed in your dwelling and test them regularly. This is a good time of the year to replace batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

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