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updated: 12/18/2013 5:05 PM

Steps to guard against Christmas tree fires

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Rolling Meadows Fire Department

Local fire departments are warning residents of the danger of Christmas tree fires. Their suggestions include these:

• If you choose an artificial tree, ensure that it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer in some way as being fire retardant.

• If choosing a real tree, make sure to pick one with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut one to two inches from the base of the trunk. Be sure the tree stays moist by adding water to the tree stand daily.

• Avoid placing any tree less than three feet away from any heat source. Make sure the tree does not block any exits.

• Use lights that have the label of an independent testing authority. Replace any string of lights with broken or worn cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer's instructions for maximum number of LED strands to connect.

• Never use candles to decorate a tree, and always be sure to turn off tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

• Dispose of the tree when it begins dropping its needles. Dried-out trees should not be left in the home or garage.

• Bring in outdoor electrical lights after the holiday to prevent hazards.