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1 County Complex Court (MC470), Prince William, Virginia 22192-9201 (703) 792-6800 Metro 631-1703, Ext. 6800, FAX 792-7691


Kevin J. McGee Chief

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release December 2, 2008 Contact: Kim Y. Hylander Public Information Specialist Office: (703) 792-6162 E-mail:

Live or Artificial - Christmas Tree Safety Is A Must One of the major purchases during the holiday season is Christmas trees. This year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA)(, more than 30 million homes in the U.S. will decorate with a farm-grown Christmas tree. You and your family’s holiday will be safer when you take the steps to properly care for and decorate your tree. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)( reports that between 2003 2006, 59% of home Christmas tree fires were reported in December and 24% reported in January. During this time period, there were five days in which Christmas tree structure fires were at their highest -- Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, December 26, December 27 and New Year’s Day. NFPA found that the major causes of these fires were: • • • • Electrical problems (48%) Too close to a heat source (27%) Involved decorative lights (22%) Involved Candles (15%)

Therefore, no matter the preference, live or artificial, taking proper care of your Christmas tree, even a flame-retardant one, will help prevent tragedy from happening. The Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue ( recommends the following Christmas tree safety tips: Choosing a Tree • • Look for a healthy and fresh tree; grasp the needles and pull toward you the branches shouldn't break or the needles fall off when bending. When choosing an artificial tree, look for the fire-retardant label.


Live or Artificial – Christmas Tree Safety Is A Must December 2, 2008 Page 2 Placement of Your Tree • Position the tree away from sources of heat that can cause premature drying or igniting, i.e. fireplaces, heat registers, direct sunlight, etc. • If rearranging furniture; maintain a safe clearance, approximately 3 feet, between the tree and any sources of heat. DO NOT obstruct exits and passageways.

Keeping a Cut Tree Fresh • • • • Cut 2 inches off the base and immerse the cut end into water immediately. Place the tree in a sturdy stand, one that can hold the weight of the tree and a large amount of water. Check the water in the tree stand frequently. An average tree can consume a quart to a gallon of water every day. DO NOT allow the water level to drop below the cut/base of the tree (pores will seal preventing water absorption).

Decorating Safely • • • • Decorate the tree with miniature lights (larger lights provide heat build up and increase drying. NEVER use real candles on a tree. Inspect used lights prior to placement on the tree. Look carefully for frayed wires, broken sockets, and other signs of wear. Purchase and use only UL listed lights and electrical items. Limit outlet usage to 3 strands of push-in bulbs or 50 screw-in bulbs per outlet. Turn off all decorations, tree, interior and exterior lights, before leaving the house or going to bed.

Safe Disposal As the holiday season ends: • • • Promptly dispose of your tree when it becomes dry and the needles begin to drop. DO NOT place the tree in your garage or lean it up against your home. NEVER burn a Christmas tree in the fireplace or woodstove. Depending on your trash and/or recycling service: o Place your tree curbside for trash collection; or o Drop off at the nearest recycling container or facility.


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