Culver City Fire Marshal Michael Bowden urges everyone to follow these 11 Christmas tree safety that include everything keeping your tree stand clean and using the correct type of tree lights to choosing a “fresh” over a “dry” tree:
- Clean the tree stand with a capful of bleach mixed with water. This reduces the growth of organisms that can block the tree's intake of water.
- Select a fresh tree with needles that do not pull easily from the branches and do not break when gently bent.
- Consider having your tree sprayed with a State Fire Marshal approved flame-retardant chemical.
- Re-cut the trunk at least one inch above the old cut as soon as you get home. Pu it in water immediately.
- Check the water level in the stand daily and refill with lukewarm water. Commercial floral preservatives can be added.
- Locate the tree away from heat sources (including television sets), being careful not to block exits with the tree or rearranged furniture.
- Use only UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved miniature type tree lights to reduce the drying effect. Do not connect more than 200 midget lights together through one string or cord.
- Check lights before putting them on the tree. Replace sets if bare wires or bulb filaments are exposed, sockets are cracked or broken, or plugs and connectors have loose or missing inserts.
- After inspecting the lights, place them on a fireproof surface and let them run for 15 minutes. Replace any that show signs of overheating, such as smoking or melting.
- Never leave a lighted tree unattended or leave lights on for prolonged periods of time. Turn the lights off and the room heat down when leaving the house or retiring for the night.
- Remove the tree from the house as soon as possible after Christmas. Never burn a Christmas tree or package wrappings in a fireplace or wood stove. (Culver City Sanitation will send a special truck to collect used Christmas trees on the regular trash pick up day. Trees should be free of ornaments, tinsel, etc., as the trees will be ground into mulch.
The following facts are intended to correct some common misconceptions about the flammability and flame proofing of Christmas trees:
When thoroughly dry, Christmas trees, especially Douglas Firs, are without question the most flammable item to be found in the home. Once ignited, the speed and intensity of burning is extreme. A dry tree will appear to literally "explode" and be totally consumed in a matter of seconds. A "fresh" tree is one that has not lost an appreciable amount of its natural moisture, regardless of when it was cut. If a tree is kept from drying out (such as keeping the cut trunk submerged in water) it can remain "fresh" and reasonably flame resistant during normal holiday use. (Click on the video to the right of this article to see how quickly a dry tree can explode alongside a flame-resistant tree with a trunk that is kept watered).
State regulations require Christmas trees to be "flame proofed" when placed in certain kinds of buildings (generally those used by the public).