Though fire-resistant artificial trees in general are safer than fresh-cut trees, some families find it's just not Christmas without a real pine or spruce, no matter what its size. If your family insists on the real thing, be sure to follow these tips from the National Christmas Tree Association and the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.
- Choose a healthy, fresh tree. Here's how: Grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger, and slide your fingers down the branch. If the tree is fresh, very few needles should come off in your hand.
- To ensure that your tree stays a vibrant green, make a cut straight across the bottom of the trunk (about a quarter of an inch above the previous cut) before placing the tree in the stand.
- Keep the tree stand filled with water. As a general rule, a fresh tree will absorb more than a gallon of water in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter.
- Place the tree away from household sources of heat, such as fireplaces, radiators, television sets, and vents.
- Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections, and broken sockets before placing them on the tree.
- Don't overload extension cords -- no more than three strings of lights per cord is the rule.
- Never leave your tree unattended while the lights are turned on.
Note: Tips 4 through 7 apply to artificial trees too.