Northwest Fire/Rescue offers tips to help keep your Christmas tree fire-free.
• Choose a fresh tree. Look for a green tree, with needles that are difficult to pull out when then branch is bent. A minimum of needles should fall off when the tree is bounced.
• Make a new diagonal cut of about two inches on the trunk to open up pores clogged by sap, and put the tree into a sturdy stand with at least a gallon of water. An average tree may consume between a quart and a gallon of water per day. Trees may also be sprayed with flame retardants.
• When placing your tree, make sure that it is kept away from heat sources such as fireplaces and heat vents. If the tree is not going to be decorated right away, it should be stored in water, in a cool place out of the wind and sun.
• Always check lights for frayed or cracked wiring and broken sockets before placing them on the tree. Do not attempt to repair broken lights.
• Make sure that new lights have the seal of approval from an independent testing laboratory and are appropriate for use on indoor use.
• Avoid overloading circuits and extension cords. Use a strip adapter with a circuit interrupter to plug in multiple strings and follow manufacturer's instructions when connecting strings together.
• Always turn off the lights when leaving the house or before going to bed.
• Remove the tree promptly after Christmas Day, and never burn any part of a tree in a wood stove or fireplace. It burns too fast and can be explosive.
"Remember, fire doesn't take a holiday," the release said. "Choose a fresh tree, keep it watered, and use care with your lights to stay tree-fire free this season."
For more information on holiday safety, call Northwest Fire/Rescue Life Safety Services Office at 887-1010.