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Practice Safety With Christmas Trees

November 29, 2014

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As we get into the Christmas season, trees take up space in many homes. Safety is important, and although this isn’t edible, it is important enough to warrant a day here. Growing up there was a section of the farm that was not viable for using for livestock and too hilly to use for crops. The cash crop for this spot of land became a haven for the Christmas tree, with hundreds of white and Scotch pines planted and sold during the holiday season. It meant learning to handle money and learning responsibility because we learned our Christmas money came from that which was collected during the selling of trees. Of course selling a Christmas tree was more than just planting trees and collecting money! The land was also a wildlife haven for birds and deer.

We also learned and practiced the fine art of keeping the Christmas tree fresh throughout the holiday season. This began with getting the tree into a bucket with rocks (for stability) and water. Always as soon as the tree was up, but before decorating the secret ingredient was added to the bucket to keep the tree fresh. A two liter bottle of 7-Up!

So convinced were we by the magic of 7-Up we learned to add one bottle per week to the bucket to refresh the supply along with water. Today there are commercial tree preservatives that seek to do the same thing. Our Christmas tree was traditionally put up the day after Thanksgiving (before the sales were busy!) and taken down by New Year’s Day.

Location of the Christmas tree is important also. Keep it away from wood stoves and fireplaces not only because of the risk of fire but the heat is drying to the Christmas tree. Ideally it should be placed on the opposite side of the room. Placed in front of the large picture window our tree was visible from the outside but, more importantly, was in the coolest place in the room.

This is a long time for a tree deprived of roots to remain fresh and alive! With many seeing needles drop and the tree drying out by Christmas eve it bodes well to bring those lessons back.

Keep the tree secured solidly. This prevents the tree from tipping over. Although not everyone likes the decorative appeal of a 5 gallon bucket this allows plenty of water to get to the tree. If you are purchasing a precut Christmas tree saw an inch or two off, so that there is a fresh cut on the end of the tree. Keep water in the bucket along with 7-Up or tree preservative, whichever method you choose, but be sure to keep water in the bucket. Most of the Christmas trees I’ve seen that were dry were secured in small tree stands that were dry, resulting in a dead tree that dropped needles everywhere!

Keeping water to the Christmas tree can prove a challenge as presents accumulate under it but it is important to do.

When putting up lights and decorations check carefully the cords and lights as you put them on. The heat coming off the lights can result in dry patches if too much is in one spot, but also make sure there is no chance for an electrical short in those areas and others. Even on a fresh tree this is important but as it dries down it’s even more so as a spark in a dry place can become a flame very quickly.

Keep all flames and candles away from your Christmas tree. Candles as well as any sparks from a wood stove or fireplace should be kept far from the tree. Within three seconds of ignition a dry Scotch pine is an inferno and less than a minute an entire room reaches the “flashover” point. A wet tree doesn’t ignite. Keep your tree watered and preserved. Be safe this holiday season!

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