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Article updated: 12/11/2013 2:51 PM

Holiday safety tips for your family and Christmas tree

When searching for an artificial tree, you will want one labeled as being fire tested. All Treetime lights are UL approved and generate very little heat.

When searching for an artificial tree, you will want one labeled as being fire tested. All Treetime lights are UL approved and generate very little heat.

 

Courtesy of Treetime Christmas Creations

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By Alex Ignatov

Christmas trees are generally quite safe if care is taken by the homeowner. According to the National Safety Council, Christmas trees are responsible for 250 home structure fires each year. At Treetime Christmas Creations, we understand that safety is the No. 1 priority for our customers. All of our trees are fire resistant. This means they will melt but never ignite.

Pet and child safety also needs to be considered when putting up your tree and decorations. To be sure you have a safe Christmas season, check out our tips for trees and lights.

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Artificial Christmas trees

•Choose a fire-resistant artificial Christmas tree. You will want one that has been labeled as being fire tested. Also, look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) label for prelit trees. All Treetime lights are UL approved and generate very little heat.

Real trees

•Select a fresh-looking, green tree. Dried out, dead trees pose a much larger fire risk. Pine needles should not fall off easily, or bend and break.

•Cut 2 inches off the bottom of the tree when you bring it home (most tree retailers will offer to do this for you free of charge).

•Keep the base of the tree in a water stand, and be sure to refill it daily.

•For both real and artificial trees, keep away from heat sources such as a fireplace, vent or radiator. The tree should not be blocking any walkways or exits. They can get in the way if trying to leave the house in an emergency.

Tree lights

•Every year, repair or replace light strands. Frayed, bare and broken wires are dangerous.

•Turn all lights off before bed and when you leave the house.

•Outdoor lights should be used outside, and indoor lights should be used inside.

•No more than three light strands should be used on one outlet or extension cord.

•Indoor extension cords should not be used outside or in conjunction with outdoor lights.

•Replace burned out bulbs as soon as you notice they are out.

Ornaments

•Real lit candles should never be placed on a tree -- real or artificial.

•If using commercial flocking, read the canister labels. It could be very flammable or not child safe.

•Use a step stool when placing ornaments high up on tree.

•Delicate tree ornaments should be placed higher up on tree so that children and pets cannot knock them down and break them.

•Edibles should not be placed on trees. Children and pets can confuse them with nonedible ornaments and may ingest something toxic.

How to childproof a Christmas tree

Lights, glass baubles and outlets can all factor into safety when it comes to your Christmas decorations and your children. When planning your decor this year, think about the best ways to showcase your best decorations in a way that is safe for your delicate items and your children. There are some easy steps you can take to create a hazard-free space for your family.

Consider age

Infants can't move much. If they are not actively crawling, you do not have to worry about setting up an elaborate barrier. If they roll around, you may want to keep the bottom of the tree clear of gifts, decor or low-hanging ornaments. Opt instead for a simple tree skirt.

Toddlers pose the biggest threat to tree-tipping and ornament breaking since they are extremely mobile, but their ability to communicate is poor. They just don't always understand "no" and are too easily tempted by all the colors and textures.

Preschool-aged children are more reasonable. You can explain dangers to them. You may have to keep breakables away from them since their motor skills are not perfect, but they are generally less prone to hurting themselves or the tree itself.

Picking the right tree for the home

Artificial trees are better options for toddlers and infants. There is no needle fall with artificial Christmas trees, so this means the little ones can't pick up and place the needles into their mouths. Artificial trees are also preferred because they are less of a fire hazard than dried out real trees. Another short-term option is to buy a smaller tree that you can place up on a higher surface. When the child is older, you can use this smaller tree as the official kid's tree, and you can bring it down to their level for them to decorate.

Find the right spot

Scout the perfect spot for your tree. Corners are ideal because they offer two walls to create a shield where the children cannot access it. Keep furniture away so that kids cannot climb up and grab at the tree. We suggest bolting the tree to the wall or screwing the base to the floor. Any added security that will prevent the tree from falling is good. This poses the biggest threat of injury to small children. A tabletop tree is also a good option to keep the tree and ornaments from wandering hands.

Decorate for safety

Keepsakes are coveted and beautiful, but for now, keep them off the tree. Instead, go for large, plastic ornaments. We say large because anything too small can be choking hazard. For the same reason, purchase one-piece ornaments that won't fall apart. Tie your ornaments on firmly so that they cannot be easily pulled off. Buy an outlet shield to keep the electrical hazard away from children. Also, strung lights should be pushed well into the tree to keep them out of arm's reach. Tape down any loose cords to keep people and children from tripping or pulling.

There is no need to sacrifice beauty for safety! You can do both and maintain a splendid decorating scheme. Use your creativity to find alternative methods of decorating. Tablescapes, wall decor, half-trees and framed pictures are great ways to celebrate Christmas and beautify your home.

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