Dry tree equals fire risk

            If you bring a live Christmas tree into your home every year, you’re in good company: The National Christmas Tree Association estimates that up to 30 million households celebrate the holidays by decorating a fresh fir or pine.

            The downside is that tree needles can dry out, fall off, turn brown or even catch on fire.

            Here’s how to keep your Christmas tree looking good, smelling fresh and out of harm’s way all season long:

  • The freshest tree is the one you cut down yourself. Consider making a day trip for your family to a local tree farm. You’ll do something good for the environment: tree farms are sustainable, which means the farmers plant a new one for every one that someone chops down.
  • If that’s too much trouble, ask the manager of the nursery, store or tree lot when the tree you choose was cut down. If nobody knows, try another store.
  • Inspect the tree before you buy it. Needles should be flexible, not dry and breakable. The fresher your tree is when you buy it, the longer it will last in your home.
  • Ask the lot manager to make a fresh cut across the bottom of the tree’s trunk, and dunk the tree in water right within a couple of hours. As soon as a tree is cut, it tries to heal itself by forming a layer of sap, which prevents it from absorbing water.
  • Water the tree every day so it never dries out. Keeping the base constantly immersed in water will slow the drying process.
  • Although adding corn syrup or sugar isn’t proven to keep a tree looking young, those who do it swear by it. It can’t hurt.
  • Locate your tree away from sunny windows, heating vents and fans. Consider setting up a humidifier near the tree.
  • Ditch your old tree lights in favor of new LED versions, which stay cooler, significantly reducing the risk that they will catch your tree on fire.